70 boys circumcised in Juba anti-HIV/AIDs campaign
JUBA – Juba Teaching Hospital has circumcised 70 boys, aged 4-15 years using the newly introduced sophisticated device under the Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) program.
The program which targets over 1.5 million uncircumcised males from seven states and the three Administrative Areas, began on Wednesday at South Sudan’s main referral hospital but was officially launched on Friday.
Supported by the Suede Arabian-based National Specification Company (NSC), the project is being implemented by the Human Appeal Advocates (HAA) in collaboration with the South Sudan Ministry of Health, targeting males from 0-49 years.
Speaking at the launch of the program, Dr. Hariet Pasquale, Acting Director of Medical Services emphasized the importance of the program in combating HIV prevalence and other Sexual Transmitted Diseases (STDs).
Ms. Hariet said South Sudan was witnessing one of the growing numbers of infections, the highest among youth exacerbated by ignorance, beliefs, and social norms.
“We are very happy that this program comes at the right time to complement authorities’ effort in combating HIV/STDs in South Sudan. So, this should be taken to all parts of the country, and especially the seven states and 3 Administrative Areas because it can complement other measures,” Dr. Hariet said.
“Circumcision is one of the health concerns in the country. If males are circumcised they can protect themselves and their partners from acquiring HIV and STDs. The infection rate of HIV is very high now in the country,” she added.
The VMMC uses a sophisticated device known as an Alaskan, a single-use machine that enables doctors to circumcise more than 10 people per hour.
Dr. Mubarak Gibralla, Urologist at Sudan Teaching Hospital, who is in Juba to train doctors on Alaskan’s use said the device was effective and patients could be healed in days.
However, Mr. Robert Matthew Uku, HAA Chief of Party appealed to the donor communities to support the program to save the life of South Sudan’s future generations from the HIV pandemic.
“The assessment revealed that more than half of males in South Sudan are not circumcised, and this is very risky in the wake of HIV. Much is needed to avert the situation and save more lives in South Sudan. So, I appeal to donor agencies to back this program.
“HIV has no boundary and can move from one place to another. Preventing it at the end reduces the vicious cycle of transmission at the other end. So, this will not only save South Sudan but the continent and the world at large,” Uku said.
Speaking at the same event, Ambassador, Ma Wenjun, Chinese Deputy Head of Mission to South Sudan promised to support health programs in the country to ensure citizens’ access to healthcare services.
“This is very important as far as health is concerned. We will continue to work with the government of South Sudan to provide health services to the people of South Sudan,” Ambassador Ma said.
Parents of the beneficiaries thanked the government and HAA associates for implementing the project which they said reduced their health expenses.
Mr. Michael Tom, father to one of the boys who benefited from the VMMC, said he could not believe it after the doctors found some worms on his 13-year-old son’s foreskins.
“I just want to give thanks to God. Now that I did not know what was happening to my son. It would have turned into something else or affect the health of my son. This is what other children are facing without knowing.
“I call on the government to continue to offer these services to the people in South Sudan to safe lives really. May God bless those who have come up with the program,” Mr. Tom said.