Thursday, April 04, 2013

Katema says 300,000 males circumcised
By Fridah Nkonde
Thu 04 Apr. 2013, 14:00 CAT

ZAMBIA has so far circumcised over 300,000 males, with more than 50 per cent of these done during last year's three school holidays campaign, says community development minister Dr Joseph Katema.

During the official opening of the Eastern and Southern Africa regional meeting on demand creation for voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) in Lusaka yesterday, Dr Katema who was represented by his deputy Jean Kapata said Zambia intended to circumcise 80 per cent of all HIV negative uncircumcised adult males aged 15 to 49 years.

"This, it is hoped, will avert close to 340,000 new infections by 2025. It is this challenge of converting knowledge into behaviour that we are here to address. It is a formidable challenge, but I believe that we have brought together a dynamic group of experts from across the world who are uniquely suited to the task at hand," Dr Katema said.

He said the meeting offered them a great opportunity to look at their programmes from new perspectives, adding that through engaging with researchers and communication experts, he was confident that they would generate new and innovative ideas.

He said the statistics alone were not sufficient to convince any individual adult man to get circumcised.

"I hesitate to ask how many of the men in this room have gone for the service, or how many of the women here have taken their husbands. Within the region, we have been working individually to try to answer some of the questions that hinder men from accessing services since 2007, but I dare to say that we haven't gotten it right just yet. We have identified many of the challenges, but I don't think we have measured or prioritised them. It is time for a more systematic approach that includes more coordination, and broader consultation," he said.

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