men aren't buying it...
July 2, 2016
Namibia’s male circumcision initiative to prevent HIV
WINDHOEK (Xinhua) -- Circumcised and ready for action?
These four words that are part of a radio advertisement
currently gracing the airwaves have aroused mixed feelings among
The advertisement is being run by the health ministry as
of a campaign to educate and encourage men to opt for voluntary medical
Namibia aims to circumcise 330, 000 men by 2025 but
program was officially launched in 2014, just above 30, 000 have taken
up the offer.
Most Namibian men
like Windhoek security guards Simeon Hafeni and Gottlieb Kalandu, are refusing to let go of their foreskins
Hafeni, who is from the northern regions of the country
circumcision is not compulsory under tribal beliefs, says he does not
see any reason for him to be cut.
“What if I get the
cut now, and then tomorrow another disease that needs the foreskin
” he asks.
His workmate, Kalandu quips: “God
was not a fool to create men with a foreskin.
are not the best reasons to stay intact. The best reasons are that the
foreskin is valuable, and that the protection offered, even if true, is
insufficient to substitute cutting for the vastly more protective
These two could symbolize the difficulty the health
campaign faces even after rolling out the program as far back as 2009
when the World Health Organization and the United Nations AIDS
Organization (UNAIDS) recommended circumcision as one of an HIV
Namibia went on to train more than 260 health care
provide deal with circumcision, while 33 district hospitals were made
available for the program.
A national strategic plan for 2010/11-2015/16 drawn up
revised in 2013 lists six core program to prevent and control the
spread of HIV in the country including circumcision.
The strategic plan states that there is need to reach
out to HIV negative adult men and initiate services for adolescents.
Although health ministry spokesperson Ester Paulus said
circumcision is a “low-cost medical intervention”, the strategic plan
shows that more than 200 million Namibian dollars (13 million U.S.
dollars) was set aside for the first three years.
“Male circumcision is a one-time, low cost medical
intervention, which has been recommended by the WHO as part of a
comprehensive package of HIV prevention.”
The country also carried out a pilot project in Aug.
capital Windhoek and at Oshakati, in the north of the country about 700
kilometers from Windhoek.
Realizing that fewer men were volunteering, the health
has been on an aggressive campaign. Apart from the advertisements, the
health minister, Bernard Haufiku, has also been vocal about the need
for men to get the cut.
When the advertisements were launched in May, Haufiku
said in high HIV prevalence countries like Namibia, circumcision will at least prevent one in
five infections as it reduces the risk of contracting HIV by 60 percent
[This is a
dangerously false way of applying this already-misleading statistic.]
Hafeni and Kalandu say they have heard the
advertisements, which they think are humorous.
“But radio is radio. I don’t believe everything I hear
on radio,” Kalandu says.