BULAWAYO is on course to meet its target to circumcise over 88 000 men by December this year set in 2009, with statistics showing that 80 000 men have already gone through the procedure to date.
By NQOBANI NDLOVU
The country has been on a drive to promote male circumcision, with a target to circumcise 1,3 million men between 13 and 29 years by 2017.
Officials say if at least 80% of men aged between 15 and 49 are circumcised by 2017, 600 000 new HIV infections could be averted by 2025.
Latest council minutes of the health, housing and education committee report shows that Bulawayo has scaled up the male circumcision drive to meet its 2009 target to circumcise 88 760 men by December this year.
“Since the inception (2009) of the voluntary male medical circumcision (VMMC) programme, the country had continued to scale up this intervention in all provinces towards the scale up target of 1.3 million target by 2018.
“The national annual target for 2017 was 322 436 male circumcisions. The Bulawayo target by 2017 since inception was 88 760 and by December 2016, more than 80 000 of the overall target had since been circumcised,” the council report read in part.
“The City of Bulawayo campaign target was 1 524 male circumcisions. VMMC in Bulawayo would be offered in some of the city clinics, Lobengula and Bulawayo VMMC sites.
“Social mobilisation on VMMC would be done by various stakeholders throughout the city. An HIV-free generation was possible and male circumcision was one of the important pieces towards the goal.”
The country opted for the circumcision route after a study found that the procedure reduced chances of contracting HIV by 60%. A little over 100 000 men are circumcised every year.
Heath experts said other benefits of VMMC included hygiene and reduced chances of contracting sexually-transmitted diseases. The procedure also protects the female partner from getting infected by the human papilloma virus which causes cervical cancer. If the target is achieved, the country is set to save $2,9 billion in care costs related to HIV management.