(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 Namibians.
The advertisement is being run by the
health ministry as part of a campaign to educate and encourage
men to opt for voluntary medical male circumcision.
Namibia aims to circumcise 330, 000
men by 2025 but since the 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 where circumcision is not compulsory
under tribal beliefs, says he does not see any reason for him to
“What if I get the cut now, and then
tomorrow another disease that needs the foreskin comes by?”
His workmate, Kalandu quips: “God was
not a fool to create men with a foreskin.”
These two could symbolize the
difficulty the health ministry’s 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 preventative measure.
Namibia went on to train more than 260
health care workers to 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 and revised in 2013 lists six core
program to prevent and control the spread of HIV in the country
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 that 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. 2009 in capital Windhoek and at Oshakati, in the
north of the country about 700 kilometers from Windhoek.
Realizing that fewer men were
volunteering, the health ministry 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
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.