The County Executive Committee Member for Health Services and Sanitation, Jane Ajele has called upon men to embrace Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) as a strategy to reduce susceptibility to HIV/AIDS infection.
Ajele was speaking on Tuesday in Lorengkipi, Loima sub County at Community Engagement Meeting organized by the County Ministry of Health through AMPATH Plus, National AIDS and STIs Control programme to pass key messages on voluntary medical male circumcision and to demystify myths and misconceptions affecting uptake of these important services.
Ajele said her ministry has resolved to use the platform of community dialogue as a launch pad to create demand for VMMC services across the county and sensitize the general public on emerging health concerns instead of waiting for the people to visit health facilities.
“As a ministry, we are disturbed that the county HIV/AIDS prevalence has increased from the initial 3.2 per cent to the current 6.8 per cent within a short span. Since male circumcision is one of the strategies to reduce the risk of new infections, we will strongly advocate for it alongside all other measures in all community dialogue days,” said Ajele.
The county health boss also called upon women to influence their spouses and male children of 10 years and above to benefit from these services. She reiterated that women also can have reduced vulnerability to cervical cancer when their husbands are circumcised.
While speaking at the same meeting, the Programme Leader for Ampathplus, Eweillar Ekiru said that VMMC services are free in all health facilities offering the service throughout the county. The Programme Lead confirmed that VMMC has benefits beyond reducing vulnerability to HIV infection but can also help in reducing ulceractive sexually transmitted infections among men.
The County VMMC Officer at Ampathplus, Godfrey Ikone indicated that the recently released KENPHIA findings confirm that HIV prevalence is high amongst communities that do not practice circumcision, adding that although the community had already embraced VMMC and benefitted immensely, the number of the unreached is still high especially the older men who are sexually active.
Ikone stated that myths, misinformation and stigma accounted for the low uptake. Ikone called for concerted efforts from the local & political leaders, including other stakeholders to help create demand for VMMC services.
A similar meeting took place at Lobei community unit to sensitize the residents on VMMC.
The meeting was attended and addressed by the County HIV Coordinator, Samuel Pulkol, the area Chief, Nathan Akal and the Loima sub county health management team members, including the SCMoH Dr. Getrude Nasike, public health nurse, Paul Ewalan, Malaria Control coordinator, Sammy Komen, the sub county pharmacist and Edwin Kasongo, the sub county HIV program coordinator.
By Peter Gitonga