Malawi to circumcise two million males by 2016: Only 42 000 circumcised currently

As Malawi embarks on a national voluntary medical male circumcision campaign (VMMC) next Monday, July 22, officials say the country estimates 2.1 million males to have undergone the knife by 2016.

Since the country introduced voluntary circumcision in September last year, only 42 000 males have gone through the process but now government estimates about 700 000 males to be voluntarily circumcised on average at various hospitals annually during the next three years.

The national campaign will start on July 22 and end on August 22 and during the month long exercise the Ministry of Health has targeted 60,000 males to be circumcised between the ages of 15-45.

Ministry of Health Spokesperson, Henry Chimbali, said despite recording a relatively low number of 42 000 so far government was optimistic it will reach the target.

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

“So far 42,000 males have been circumcised and Malawi is expecting to have 2.1 million males voluntarily circumcised by 2016. This is an encouraging development considering that the campaign is just about two years old,” Chimbali said.

However, statistics indicate that many men aged between 30 and 49 do not want to go for VMMC claiming they cannot manage to stay for six weeks without having sex. And most of those who go for it are youths between the ages of 15 to 24.

A person is supposed to stay for six weeks for the circumcision wounds on his penis to completely heal.

Health experts say circumcision helps to reduce chances of contracting HIV by about 60 percent.

The one month campaign will take place in five selected districts of Phalombe, Mulanje, Thyolo, Blantyre (southern region) and Lilongwe in the central region targeting about 12,000 males per district.

Lilongwe District Health Officer, Mwawi Mwale said during they campaign they will reach out to many young people of the reproductive age groups.

Mwale said in order to achieve their aspiration they have put in place some strategies which include use of community mobilisers who are roaming in the communities notifying and motivating young men to go for the procedure.

The first national campaign of voluntary male circumcision, which government is conducting in conjunction with I-Tech with funding from CDC and USAID, took place in Mulanje district in 2011 and less than 10 000 males took part in the exercise.

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