Health officials in Rumphi have described religious and cultural beliefs as a set back to Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) program in the district as men as refusing to cut their foreskins, saying VMMC is not in line with Tumbuka culture and that it part of Islamic belief not Christian.
Rumphi nutrition and HIV/Aids officer, Blessings Kanyangale said the development has made the hospital to reduce their target.
“Circumcision is being regarded as sin to the Tumbuka culture. Some men also said it is against their religious belief but suitable for Muslims. Men are shunning circumcision because of these two things,” said Kanyangale.
“Imagine, in 2013 we planned to circumcise 2, 569 across the district but out of the figure only 914 men were circumcised. So, for the year 2017-2018 we reduced the figure,” he disclosed.
Exective Director for National Aids Commission (NAC), Davie Kalomba said the trend is not strange because circumcision is a new phenomenon in some cultures but ask the hospital to organize mass sensitization campaign.
Despite the claim, some traditional leaders have accused the hospital officials for failing to sensitize the community especially on the important of circumcision.
“Some men are indeed saying that but it is because of ignorance. The hospital is failing to go around the area educating men on its important,” said some chiefs.
Rumphi District is also known for some cultural practices that fuel the spread of HIV. Among them are Chihalo in which a man is allowed to inherit her deceased brother’s wife and Vithulo where parents-in-law send teams of people—young and old—to visit each other. During such events, they drink and dance all night long.
Studies show VMCC reduces chances of HIV infections by 60 percent.
Elsewhere, Malawi News Agency reports that Thyolo district has surpassed half of the targeted clients it intended to reach during the circumcision campaign.
Coordinator for VMMC for Thyolo Andrew Chamdula has said the campaign which started two years ago, has seen more young men accessing the VMMC service. The campaign is been supported by JHPIEGO.
“Despite some challenges, like shortage of circumcision kits, we have managed to reach 8900 clients against the target of 10,000. The response from the communities has been overwhelming and encouraging,” Chamdula is quoted as saying.
Chamdula said the high turn up was a clear indication that communities took heed of the messages the district council disseminated to the communities on the importance of VMMC.
He observed that some districts are not doing well in VMMC because of the myths surrounding circumcision.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :