THE national Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) missed its target of circumcising 412,000 men in 2020 and only managed to circumcise 78,000 due to the COVID-19 pandemic which derailed all circumcision efforts countrywide due to tight restrictions on movement.
By Michael Gwarisa
Zimbabwe adopted VMMC as one of its main HIV prevention strategies for men in 2008 with studies having shown that the practice can help reduce HIV transmission in men by about 60%. To date, over 2 million men have been circumcised in Zimbabwe since the commencement of the national VMMC program in 2009.
Giving a presentation on HIV prevention options for men during a Virtual workshop for ZCC Supervisory Council for accelerating male engagement on HIV, SRHR and GBV within the Church and the community , Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) National HIV Prevention Coordinator, Ms Getrude Ncube said the COVID-19 affected circumcision processes in 2020.
Since inception in 2008, over 2 million men have been reached through VMMC. Circumcision is one of the options available to prevent men for contraction HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections. The main reason for the 2020 performance is that services were put on hold due to Covid-19. It is not a problem of client uptake
“As a country we look at HIV prevention as the key in the prevention of new infections for HIV and HIV and AIDS. Prevention is actually key and for HIV and AIDS, the first strategy is Prevention, the second one is Prevention and the third one is actually prevention,” said Ms Ncube.
The country’s VMMC program has been on an upward trend over the years at the back of increased uptake of VMMC services by the male population. At least one million Zimbabwean men had been circumcised by the year 2018, a development that has scaled up the country’s progress towards reaching the global 2030 HIV targets.
Even though the country’s VMMC has been on an upward trend over the years, there still remains huge disparities in terms of uptake other HIV and Sexual and Reproductive Health Services between men and women. According to the National AIDS Council Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator, Mr Issac Taramusi, recent data shows that more women are taking HIV services as compared to men.