BLM targets 5,500 Malawi men to cut off their foreskins

Banja La Mtsogolo (BLM) has embarked on a 30-days free Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) Mini Campaign in Mulanje and Phalombe district targeting over 5,500 men.

The mini campaign is conducted jointly with Mulanje and Phalombe District Health Offices (DHOs), starting March 25th to April 19th, 2014 and will be followed up with a mop-up in the week beginning April 21st to April 30th.

BLM Communications and Social Marketing Manager, Patrick Zgambo told Nyasa Times the campaign was initially designed following an upsurge demand of male circumcision services in the targeted districts.

Medical male circumcision as part of its HIV prevention strategy
Medical male circumcision as part of its HIV prevention strategy

“Evidence has shown that demand for male circumcision in the community is still high and there is need to bring the services closer to reach more clients. This is an activity which will be followed by 7 days for follow ups and mop up activity for any residual clientele that might have not been served during these 30 days,” explained Zgambo.

This year BLM, according to Zgambo, is expected to circumcise around 17,400 men in Mulanje and Phalombe-9,918 and 7,482 respectively- with over 3, 000 circumcisions already performed.

He said: “These targets have been arrived at base on the previous national campaign data and experience. We will have 4 and 5 teams for Phalombe and Mulanje districts respectively. The assumption is that each team in Mulanje and Phalombe will produce an average of 20 circumcisions per day using MOVE Model. With this estimate, 9 teams will do 120 MCs in a day and 5,500 MCs in 30 days”.

To ensure the campaign produce positive outcome, BLM and district Health education and information team initiated a two-weeks demand creation and community mobilization activities prior the campaign and, will continue for another two weeks during the actual campaign.

Zgambo also disclosed that they agreed to conduct a focus group discussion in Mulanje to identify gaps or issues that are limiting factors affecting client turn up for VMMC, which will guide to select messages to give to the community during demand creation as well as to improve service delivery.

“Some of the lessons learned during the 2013 campaign will be beneficial to improve demand creation during this campaign. Orientation of Health Surveillance Assistants and stakeholders in both districts will be conducted prior to the campaign.

“These lessons include the use of public lectures to schools, meeting with traditional chiefs and village herdsmen, meeting with tea estate managers, road shows and video shows. It is expected that this collaboration will continue in this campaign as well to attract more men to make informed decision to come forward for VMMC services,” he explained.

BLM has five  dedicated outreach teams that have been providing active routine outreach VMMC services in Mulanje and Phalombe districts.

In line with Ministry of Health standards, BLM has been supporting male circumcision service delivery since August 2012 in the two districts with funding from USAID, and since implementing the 2011 program over 37, 000 circumcisions have been done.

Male circumcision is believed to reduce HIV and Aids transmission by 60 percent; however health authorities always encourage people to practice safe sex. MC also has effect on cervical cancer transmission.

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