Mulenda was briefing journalists on the progress of the SMC initiative in the city on Friday. The SMC programme was introduced a few years ago as an initiative to reduce HIV/AIDS prevalence among men. "Our target for this year is to circumcise 10,000 males but for the first quarter of this year we have only managed to circumcise 658.The majority of those who have circumcised are students. We have four quarters in a year and it is unlikely that we will reach our 10,000 target if adult men do not circumcise in large numbers," he said.
Although he did not avail statistics to substantiate his statement, he added that when schools are closed, the number of males who circumcise also decline. "To avert this disheartening trend, we have been talking to institutions such as banks and police stations that have high volumes of workers to send their employees for circumcision when schools are closed," he said. He said despite the intervention, the number of adult males who circumcise is still very low.
Mulenda also stated that only 4,209 men in Francistown and greater Francistown areas have been circumcised since the SMC initiative was launched in the city in July 2009. Of the 4,209, 40 carried out the procedure in private hospitals.
Programme officer at the African Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Partnership (ACHAP), Eric Magashula, whose organisation works hand in hand with the Ministry of Health to deliver the SMC programme, said the majority of adults do not circumcise because they are reluctant to test for HIV/AIDS. He stated that the number of students who circumcise is high because HIV/AIDS prevalence among them is low.
He said, "We are however expecting the number of adult males who circumcise to increase soon. Of late we managed to reach a lot of individuals in very remote areas near Francistown to sensitise them about the importance of circumcising.