U.S. Ambassador to Namibia, Lisa Johnson delivers remarks at the milestone event for the 35,000th client reached through through VMMC services

Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Subject 
Milestone Event: 35,000 Clients Reached with Private Sector Support for Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC)
Opening ceremony fro the VMMC clinic in Katutura
U.S. Ambassador Lisa Johnson and Minister of Health and Social Services in Namibia cutting the ribbon of the new VMMC clinic at Katutura Health Center
USAID/Namibia

Director of Ceremonies;

Honorable Dr. Bernard Haufiku, Minister of Health and Social Services;
Honorable Laura McLeod-Katjirua, Governor of Khomas Region;
His Worship Muesee Kazapua, Mayor of the City of Windhoek;
Ms. Elizabeth Muremi, Regional Health Director in the Khomas Region;
Councilor Ambrosius Kandjii, Katutura Central Councilor;
Ms. Anne-Marie Nitschke, Director of Special Programs in the MoHSS;
Namibian and U.S. Government representatives;
Clients and staff members of this clinic;
Members of the media;
Ladies and – most importantly - GentleMEN.
Good morning!

 

Through the leadership of the Honorable Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr. Bernard Haufiku, Namibia has made great strides in the fight against HIV/AIDS, establishing itself as a global leader.

The recent NAMPHIA data are clear testimony to this great achievement – and indeed:  Namibia is very close to reaching epidemic control and closer than ever to achieving an AIDS- free generation.

Despite this significant progress, however, Namibia continues to see new HIV infections year after year.  To address this, a combination of HIV prevention strategies is required to achieve lasting success.

Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision – or VMMC – is an evidence-based prevention strategy and a crucial component of that combination.  Specifically, research has proven that being circumcised reduces the risk of acquiring HIV by 60 percent – a truly impressive figure.  VMMC also protects against other sexually-transmitted diseases, such as HPV, which can cause cervical cancer in women.

The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, is supporting the Ministry of Health to scale up VMMC to help meet Namibia’s goal of reducing the number of new HIV infections by 75 percent.   

To date, the VMMC program in the Khomas region has circumcised more than 35,000 men.  VMMC coverage in the Khomas region has now increased to 45 percent among men aged 15 to 29 years old.  Statistically, this means that more than 1,000 new HIV infections were prevented since the program started three years ago.  We celebrate this achievement today as a milestone on the march to epidemic control. 

Today’s event also highlights an innovative program that works in partnership with the private health sector and the insurance industry.  Implemented by AIDSFree, the program joins with the Ministry and the medical aid fund to standardize tariffs for circumcision and supports private health providers with training, monitoring, and evaluation. 

Circumcisions under this program are paid for by medical aid, from which private providers claim directly.  But the program equally welcomes clients who do NOT have medical aid.  Their circumcisions are covered by a subsidy PEPFAR provides to the private providers.  Through this approach, the program has successfully reached men who otherwise would have not benefited from this important public health intervention.

Clients circumcised at private clinics also receive other health services, including screening for sexually transmitted infections, HIV testing, and, if required, are immediately put on treatment.

All of this is now possible right here in this new Smartcut Clinic.  Today’s opening of this fully-equipped and staffed facility is a sign of America’s dedication to this important work.  I hope to see continued success in this clinic to offer much needed integrated health services for men, including VMMC.

The U.S. Government, through PEPFAR, remains firmly committed to supporting the Ministry of Health and Social Services to achieve its vision of an AIDS-free generation.  We are certainly on the right track, but we need your help to encourage more young men to get circumcised, to get tested for HIV, and if necessary, to get on treatment to stop the virus from spreading. 

Simply put, VMMC saves lives.  I hope you will leave here today and tell others about how important circumcision is in the fight against the HIV epidemic, and about the services for all men offered here at this clinic.  

Thank you.

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Katutura Health Center (Black Chain), Windhoek
Issuing Country 

Last updated: September 18, 2018

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