The Ministry of Health and Social Services is pushing for a policy on early infant circumcision, the Technical Director of the AIDS Free Project, Lawrence Kahindi, said during an exclusive interview on Wednesday.
Kahindi said the idea comes after studies have shown that it is cheaper for people to be circumcised at an early age.
“Internal discussions have already started. We are very pleased about this. We want babies to be circumcised before they leave the maternity ward, and for this to happen a policy must be put in place,” he said.
Kahindi said one of the advantages of circumcising infants is that the healing process is much faster.
“As the umbilical cord is falling off, the skin is also healing,” he explained.
The policy is also meant to eliminate the demand for backyard procedures which are common in Namibia.
Kahindi said it is much safer to be circumcised by professionals. “These people are trained and know what is best.”
Over 35,000 men have been circumcised in Khomas Region since the inception of the Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision programme in 2009.
But Kahindi said the figure remains low.
“There is a low demand for circumcision. Often when I visit a facility, I find staff there, but the volumes of men who are coming in are still not the amount that we are hoping for. We would like to see more men showing interest,” he said.
According to Kahindi, some of the main reasons why most men don’t go for circumcision are the long distances to health centres and falsehoods being spread around.
“Many believe that circumcision must only be done during the winter season, but this not true. Traditionally most circumcision takes place during the cooler seasons because many individuals trust that the healing process is better and faster.
“When someone is circumcised by professionals in a health facility there is no need to wait for a certain time,” Kahindi clarified.
He said people have spread false stories that circumcision can enlarge or reduce the men’s genital organs.
“Many men are often discouraged when this does not happen. Circumcision is only the removal of the foreskin, nothing else.”
According to research by the Ministry of Health and Social Services, there are less than two percent of problematic cases reported.
“Any surgical procedure is always risky. Most of the problems reported to us are not because of the service provider, but due to the carelessness of the patient. They don’t follow the rules. People must keep in mind that adhering to the rules is key to a healthy and speedy recovery,” Kahindi said.
Research has proven that a man who is circumcised has a 60 percent reduction of acquiring HIV, the virus that leads to AIDS.
Men who are circumcised also have a lower chance of acquiring other sexually transmitted diseases such as HPV (Human Papilloma Virus), which can cause cervical cancer in women.
"Statistically, this means that more than 1,000 new HIV infections have been prevented since the programme started three years ago. We celebrate this achievement today as a milestone on the march to epidemic control," US Ambassador to Namibia Lisa Johnson said on Wednesday.
She was speaking at the official opening and handover of the Smart Cut Clinic, a Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision facility at the Katutura Health Center.