June is “Men’s Health Month”. On the 20th of June some of our Hospice Community Health Workers will be working with the Department of Health to educate, encourage and refer males over the age of 15 years to be circumcised. Our health workers will be explaining what males have to do to join the free programme.
Some of the problems that they encounter within the community is; resistance to circumcision due to cultural reasons, reservations about pain during and after the procedure the care after the procedure and that it is a very private decision. However our care workers are starting to notice a slight change within the community thanks to the education that they are providing. Males are slowly starting to understand that the benefits of being circumcised in general, out-weigh their concerns. Medical male circumcision reduces the risk of female to male HIV transmission by approximately 60%. It also reduces the risk of penile cancer and cervical cancer in females as well as reducing the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. Despite this, it is still a struggle to get males to have the procedure done as the subject is still taboo and it is being explained by our mostly female Hospice workers.
The process takes less than 15 to 20 minutes, is done for free at the hospital or the CDC (day care) in White location and wound care and dressings are done at the clinics every second day, making the risk of wound complications far less. In some cases the department of health even transports the patients to and from the clinics themselves to ensure that the procedure is done and then properly cared for. The target for Medical Male Circumcisions for 2016 in South Africa is 4,300 000 males and by April 2016 2,300 000 had been done. We hope that through continuing the education and support that the Department of Health and Hospice provides within our community we will continue to see a change in trend and more males will volunteer to have the procedure done. We hope that this will then contribute to slowing down the HIV transmission rate.
We’d like to acknowledge Gwen Stroebel, one of our mentors who mentors our Community Health Workers for the information provided.