US government devote $5m to circumcision campaign


PALAPYE: In their continued support in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Botswana, the United States (US) government has dispensed millions of Dollars into the recently launched Safe Male Circumcision campaign.

Speaking during the ongoing ‘New Directions in Global Health’ seminar held at Serowe Institute of Health Sciences (IHS), the US ambassador to Botswana, Earl Miller said they intend to give support to all the 12 districts.

 “The US government is supporting Botswana with $5 million to conduct the Accelerated Safe Male Circumcision Campaign which was launched on August 10 at Maun. The campaign which was launched by Botswana MoH in association with US government shall cover 12 districts including Serowe,” he said.

He said the key word is ‘accelerated’ with new targets in the districts of Botswana with the highest numbers of uncircumcised men.

Miller further said that the main aim of the campaign is to conduct 35,000 circumcisions among men aged between 15 and 29 years old in six months using five mobile teams. He said the target is ambitious, formidable and the right thing to do to help fight the HIV pandemic.

The ambassador said the country’s Preparation’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) team will be focusing most efforts in health districts in Botswana with the highest disease burden and unmet need.

He said they looked district-by-district at data and determined that it would be much more impact to work in select areas where there are gaps, rather than spreading the investment thinly across the entire nation. “PEPFAR has been working in partnership with Botswana for 12 years. While the government of Botswana has made the lions’ share in the total investments, the American investment in this joint effort has so far totalled more than $700 million US dollars. Together we have accomplished a lot,” Miller further said. “The public health team shall be working hard and going to areas where the disease is, thus including Serowe and Palapye districts. Treatment is one of the best uses of HIV/AIDS funding because of its proven preventative qualities, it averts deaths, prevents new infections, restores health, and has microeconomic benefits to the family and community,” he said. Meanwhile, a public health specialist, Dr Onkgopotse Oduetse expressed concern over low numbers of HIV couple testing turn-ups. She said that in most cases, women are the ones who normally test in large numbers while their male counterparts are still reluctant to do the HIV testing. However, she said that according to the study, which was done in Serowe district, females are the most infected group with 41.8%. She said the most affected group range is between 30-34 years old.  She said a total number of 11,433 patients are taking ARVs in the district. She, however, encouraged females to use their own condom, saying if they take responsibility of using their own, infections can be low as compared to when they rely on the male condom.

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