THE main Regional Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision Centre at Swakopmund recorded a total of 10,016 circumcision procedures conducted between October 2017 and September 2018.
This, according to Gebhard Shikongo, the call and information centre coordinator, is an exceptional achievement, as their target for the period was 12,039 (Erongo 4,815; Ohangwena 7,224). The Erongo region reached 92 percent of their target and Ohangwena 77 percent.
The Swakopmund Centre caters for both the Erongo and Ohangwena regions, with only one VMMC centre at the Kuisebmond clinic in Walvis Bay supplementing them.
Shikongo noted that males in the age group of 15-29 years were their most frequent “customers” and that the centre mainly focuses on males between 10 and 45 years old.
According to the centre’s monitoring and evaluation data assistant, Gregory Beukes, their peak periods are during the school holidays when school learners flock to the centre to get circumcised. During last year’s December holidays (December 2017 to January 2018) a total of 1,084 males underwent the procedure in Erongo and Ohangwena.
The VMMC centre also conducts regular mobile outreach programmes at schools and community halls in the two regions, which according to Beukes have been a big success. Shikongo remarked that the procedure itself takes about 25-30 minutes and “is not painful at all.”
Both the VMMCC employees interviewed noted that they themselves have also undergone the procedure for personal hygiene and to protect their partners. Thus far no complaints from treated patients have been received, Shikongo added.
According to him, the biggest challenge they face is transportation, especially for people residing in Ohangwena region. Another challenge is the fact that employed men find it difficult to get time off work in order to visit the Centre.
It is understood that some parents of minors are not cooperating, as their kids want to get circumcised, but the parents are at work or do not have time to accompany them to the Centre, and thus the teenagers cannot do so, as it is compulsory for minors to be accompanied by their parents, who have to give permission for the procedure to be executed.
Another thorn in the flesh, according to Shikongo, is most people’s fear of getting tested for HIV/Aids. This is also done at the Centre and counselling services are also available. Shikongo however emphasised that the option of HIV/Aids testing is completely voluntary.
“If we can overcome these obstacles, many more Namibians can get the smart cut and also contribute to the health and hygiene of the country,” Shikongo concluded.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015