By Adam Hartman
THANKS to a donation by the Johns Hopkins University in the United States of America, a state-of-the-art mobile clinic used specifically for male circumcision, has enabled the ministry of health to take its delicate service literally to the doorstep of its customers.
In 2016, Namibia launched its countrywide voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC), also known as the ‘smart cut’, campaign.
The selling-point of VMMC is that it can reduce HIV infection by 60%.
VMMC can be done at hospitals and clinics across Namibia. But to help take the pressure off some health centres – many of which are too small to embrace the service, or are not equipped with a proper theatre for the otherwise simple, yet delicate procedure – the United States decided to assist with the mobile clinic.
The mobile clinic was at Arandis yesterday, and according to specialist nurse Patience Mlalazi, the vehicle first hit the road in November last year, and will initially be used only in the Erongo region and Ohangwena regions because of their large rural communities.
The first phase will end in September, and then the mobile clinic will be dispatched to other areas.
It is the only truck of its kind in the country, and boasts a fully-equipped theatre in which two people can receive surgery at the same time.
It also has enough storage place for medical equipment, a kitchen and toilet.
“Many men are not circumcised, and may not do the procedure because they are not near a proper clinic. We can drive this truck straight into town, and provide a specialist service. Usually, when driving into the communities, we use a sound system, just to create awareness and tell people we are there,” said Mlalazi.
She said since the mobile clinic was dispatched – first in the Ohangwena district – only 40 men made use of its services, but now that it is in Erongo, figures are expected to rise significantly.
“It is still a matter of awareness of the need to be circumcised, and the awareness of our service,” she added.
The mobile clinic is not just about circumcision. Voluntary HIV testing, as well as counselling, are offered.
The circumcision campaign is a key strategy in steering Namibia to the ’90/90/90′ goal, which means identifying 90% of all people who are HIV positive; getting 90% of them on life-saving antiretroviral drugs; and achieving a viral suppression of 90% of the people taking the drugs.
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