MAUN: The Ministry of Health launched an accelerated six-month Safe Male Circumcision (SMC) national campaign at the Maun Sports Complex on Monday.
The campaign, which was officially launched by the Minister of Health, Dorcas Makgato was held amid pomp under the theme ‘Rola Kepese, Circumcise Now’. The campaign strives to achieve a total of 35,000 male circumcisions throughout the country.
Makgato said the accelerated campaign would help increase the number of circumcised men. She also called on them to heed the message and come in bigger numbers to get circumcised.
Said Makgato: “I appeal to all men to do the right thing, right now. Don’t be left behind. Get circumcised now. Please”. Botswana adopted safe male circumcision in 2009 as an additional HIV prevention strategy. The minister explained: “The goal of the national strategy for safe male circumcision is to contribute to the reduction of HIV infection rates by scaling up safe male circumcision throughout the country”.
The circumcision for HIV prevention initiative is based on findings of studies conducted in Sub-Saharan Africa, which showed that circumcision reduces the chances of men getting infection by as much as 60 percent. Circumcision is also one of the oldest surgical procedures that have been performed worldwide for religion, social, cultural and medical reasons.
Makgato noted that the country’s implementation of SMC for HIV prevention has had successes and challenges. Explaining further she said, “we have made significant strides towards our 2016 target, but we have not been able to reach our annual set targets of 50,000”. The country has a big target of circumcising 480,000 men by 2016.
According to Makgato, the accelerated campaign was funded by the United States of America at the tune of P49 million assuring the sponsors that the country will maximise the funds prudently to the benefit of the population. The Head of the Ngami Health Management Team, Christopher Chembe noted that since the 2009 SMC launch the numbers of men coming forward to circumcise has been on a decline.
He said while this may have been due to inadequate mobilisation they are hopeful the accelerated exercise will ameliorate the situation.