After a study conducted in Kenya, Uganda and South Africa indicated that circumcised men, as opposed to uncircumcised men, have a lower chance of contracting HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, the Ministry of Health rolled out a ‘SAFE MALE CIRCUMCISION’ programme with a target of circumcising 80% of males in Botswana by the year 2016.
The targeted males are those between ages from 0-49 years.
Mr Thuto Ditibane, the Public Relations Officer of Deborah Retief Memorial Hospital in Mochudi, said that there have been 19 circumcisions carried out since May 4 2009, which he said was a tremendous achievement.
Ditibane also pointed out that since the beginning of the exercise eleven days ago, they have received bookings for up to the month of June.
He said they had so far registered between 50 and 70 men who want to be circumcised, noting that it appeared as if people had been waiting for the program, as fathers come with their sons to be circumcised.
He added that they might have the highest number countrywide, as they had received a request from the Bakgatla chieftainship, asking for their assistance during the male initiation ceremony.
Ditibane, however, acknowledged some constraints that are hampering them from keeping in step with the Ministry’s call of 10 circumcisions per day.
‘‘The Ministry of Health has called for the circumcision of at least 10 men per day but due to limitations of manpower and resources, particularly the surgery theater where first priority is given to the sick, we are only able to attend to two persons a day.”
Explaining the procedure, Ditibane said that SAFE MALE CIRCUMCITION is carried out in a surgery theater by qualified surgeons. He said it is not painful during the circumcision process but one would only feel a little pain afterwards, as is normal with any operation.
He said that the circumcision operation takes a period of six weeks to heal in most cases and regular check ups are undertaken until the doctor deems it successfully healed. During this period the circumcised man must not indulge in sexual intercourse as this might interfere with the healing process.
Mr. Johannes Mokgatlhane, a Mochudi-based taxi driver, praised the exercise, saying that even though he is not circumcised, the program is fine as it gives another alternative strategy in curbing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. He said he intends to get circumcised by June this year.
But it’s not all who intend to enroll with the program and get circumcised. Tshiamo Tabane, a University of Botswana student who has no intentions of getting circumcised, however, sees the program as very essential.
Ditibane called on men to come forward in large numbers to get circumcised as this helps in reducing the chances of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, especially HIV/AIDS.
Ditibane, however, warned that men must not abandon other strategies of protecting themselves under the pretext that they have ‘natural condoms’, as some are now saying after circumcision.
“I encourage men to come forward and take advantage of this opportunity. Though it is not the only solution in reducing the risks of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, it can be of great help.”