Maseru, Lesotho—Lesotho’s voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) program has reached more than 10,000 Basotho men who have undergone the procedure as part of a comprehensive package of HIV prevention services, Minister of Health Dr. Pinkie Manamolela announced today.
Dr. Manamolela acknowledged the support of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) global Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP), which has been working with the Ministry of Health to provide free VMCC services in the country since early 2012.
As of February 15, 2013, the program had circumcised 11,300 men, a milestone in the country’s efforts to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. One HIV infection is estimated to be averted for every five circumcisions, which means Lesotho has helped prevent an estimated 2,000 HIV infections.
With the third highest prevalence rate in the world, a persistently high rate of new infections and a low rate of male circumcision, Lesotho is among the countries with the most to gain from VMMC services. High and increasing demand for VMMC shows that Basotho men clearly want these services. In all of Lesotho’s districts, men have been lining up—sometimes throughout the night—for the chance to access medical male circumcision, which is provided along with HIV counseling and testing, screening for sexually transmitted infections and education on sexual and reproductive health.
The Ministry of Health marked the achievement of 10,000 voluntary medical male circumcisions with a meeting of leading partners, guests and supporters and a photography exhibition, which highlighted the work that has been done since the VMMC program’s launch. At a reception following the meeting, Dr. Manamolela acknowledged the need for HIV interventions for men and expressed his great appreciation for the efforts being made toward reducing HIV in Lesotho through VMMC.
Sello Montsi, a VMMC nurse, shared his experience as both a client and a provider. He encouraged men to seek out medical male circumcision and encouraged providers to continue working toward an HIV-free Lesotho.
Dr. Jacob Mufunda, of the World Health Organization, spoke of the need to scale up this evidence-based intervention and the importance of partnerships. Jeff Borns, Mission Director for USAID/Southern Africa, said there was agreement among stakeholders on the need to quickly take VMMC services to scale in Lesotho.
The Lesotho VMMC program, implemented under the leadership of the Ministry of Health, is funded by the U. S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through USAID and implemented by MCHIP, which is led by Jhpiego, an international, non-profit, global health affiliate of Johns Hopkins University.