Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu, Health Reporter
COVID-19 has slowed down the country’s male circumcision programme which is being undertaken under strict adherence to measures such as social distancing and screening of people as they enter health facilities.
Voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) provides men a life-long partial protection against HIV as well as other sexually transmitted infections.
It is part of a comprehensive HIV prevention package of services in Zimbabwe and to be used in conjunction with other methods of prevention, such as female and male condoms.
In 2007, WHO and UNAIDS issued recommendations on medical male circumcision as an additional HIV prevention strategy based on strong and consistent scientific evidence.
Scientific studies have shown that VMMC reduces the risk of sexual transmission of HIV from women to men by approximately 60 percent.
The procedure which involves the removal of the foreskin averts new HIV infections for countries with a high HIV prevalence like Zimbabwe which stands at 12,7 percent.
The Ministry of Health and Child Care is targeting to circumcise about 400 000 men this year in a bid to avert new HIV infections. This translates to about 33 100 men being circumcised monthly this year but as of April only 37 060 men had undergone through the procedure. 354 328 men were circumcised across the country last year.
The director of HIV, Aids and TB Unit in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr Owen Mugurungi said Covid-19 had presented challenges in terms of rolling out the programme although he was positive the target is achievable.
“The annual target for 2020 is 412, 722 and the VMMC program has progressed quite well over the years as we continue to receive men requesting for the service across the districts in the country. We have successfully scaled up the program to ensure that all districts are offering the service through training of staff, procurement of circumcising kits, opening up new sites and continuously putting mechanisms to improve the quality of our program,” said Dr Mugurungi.
He said he was mindful of the challenges that have been brought about by Covid-19 and disruptions to people’s daily lives, including access to health services that include circumcision. — @thamamoe