Thomas Daughton

Namibia: US Ambassador Advocates Male Circumcision

The US government plans to spend more than US$67 million in Namibia and it wants to spend on circumcision.

Windhoek — US Ambassador to Namibia Thomas Daughton says there is a need to promote, expand and sustain voluntary medical male circumcision services.

There is compelling medical evidence that male circumcision reduces the risk of HIV-infection by approximately 60 percent.

"The reason seems pretty straightforward, even to someone like me who's not a medical professional. Voluntary medical male circumcision has proven to be one of the most economical and effective methods of reducing HIV-transmission," said Daughton, who stressed that reducing transmission is a key component in controlling the spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

"That's why it is so encouraging to see the government's proactive effort to scale up voluntary medical male circumcision here in Namibia," Ambassador Daughton said on Thursday.

At the same occasion Minister of Health and Social Services Dr Bernard Haufiku said male circumcision forms an integral part of Namibia's HIV/AIDS prevention approach.

Increasing national male circumcision coverage to 80 percent - which will total 330 218 circumcisions - among the age group 15 to 49 years could avert 18 400 new HIV-infections by 2025, he said.

Currently, only 30 365 circumcisions have been conducted among the 15 to 49 age group, he said. This amounts to 9.25 percent national coverage. "To reach this (80 percent) goal, there is need for concerted effort and I commend the national voluntary medical male circumcision coordinator for getting the private sector on board," he said.

One out of four medical circumcisions performed in Namibia is done by the private sector, Daughton noted. "That shows that the private sector is already an important partner in Namibia's fight against HIV and it can be even more important.

"For the Namibian government to build a functional and robust relationship with the private sector holds huge potential. Private sector healthcare capacity hasn't traditionally been mobilised in voluntary medical male circumcision services, but many private healthcare facilities can and do provide voluntary medical male circumcision services," he said.

 

Daughton advised that taking advantage of the existing capacity of private healthcare facilities would be a small investment with potentially huge returns.

Further, he said the estimated 94 000 eligible males who are covered by medical aid are an untapped, accessible beneficiary pool and represent an opportunity to make a lasting impact in the fight against HIV in Namibia.

"The private sector has demonstrated its willingness and its ability to join the Namibian government's efforts to scale up voluntary medical male circumcision in Namibia. They can be a formidable force in creating a sustainable HIV-response and ultimately epidemic control here in Namibia," said Daughton.

The US government plans to spend more than US$67 million - over a billion Namibian dollars - to achieve the goal of controlling the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Daughton said.

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