The Ministry of Health has launched the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ) voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) mobile surgical truck and caravans valued at over USD 200,000.
The surgical truck and three caravans were purchased with support from the U.S President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and will be used in Lusaka and Western Provinces.
Speaking at the launch, Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary-Technical Services, Dr. Kennedy Malama said, “the VMMC truck and caravans are going to enhance the VMMC service delivery
in the country as we take health care services closer to the people. In the health sector, we are very clear that for us to ensure that we improve the health of our people, we need to take health care services closer to them. The challenges are many for our people to reach the health facilities so when you innovatively start taking services closer, then access will be enhanced and so many numbers we talk about in terms of VMMC targets shall be reached. That is why we are excited that we are fulfilling one of our mandates within the healthcare system pillars of ensuring that we move towards universal health coverage. You can not talk of universal health care coverage if you are not taking healthcare services closer to the them without them suffering financial hardship and this launch and handover of this piece of equipment is speaking to government and Ministry of Health aspirations”.
Dr Malama said despite Zambia having made a lot of gains in terms of reducing the HIV disease burden in the country, HIV still remained a public health threat to social-economic development and prosperity of Zambia. “Its from that background that I wish to thank the government and the people of the United States of America for the unwavering support given to the people of Zambia particularly in responding to the HIV pandemic in our country. Some of you may be aware that the U.S government through PEPFAR has been supporting Zambia since the early 2002s”.
“Even if the new HIV infections have reduced from 77,500 in 2010 to 43,000 in 2016, the number is still too high. We are doing everything possible to reduce these numbers including investing in VMMC so that we can reach a stage where no Zambian is living with HIV, no Zambian is dying from AIDS and at the rate we are moving, we are sure come 2030, we shall attain that”.
And CDC Country Director, Dr. Simon Agolory, said the handover of the cutting edge surgical truck and three caravans, is a demonstration of the commitment of the U.S. government through PEPFAR
to the long-term health of Zambians. “CIDRZ, a key implementing partner of CDC, will use the surgical truck to complement the Ministry of Health’s efforts of taking services closer to the people as part of a comprehensive strategy for combating HIV”.
He said based on recent data, VMMC is a cost-effective method of HIV prevention that reduces a man’s risk of acquiring HIV from a female partner by up to 60 percent. “Now, 14 sub-Saharan African countries, including Zambia, are implementing VMMC to reverse high HIV prevalence rates and low levels of adult male circumcision. For every 14 males circumcised in Zambia, one HIV infection is averted. By the end of 2017, Zambia had averted approximately 17,000 infections. A one-time intervention, medical male circumcision reduces risk of HIV acquisition, as well as that of other sexually transmitted infections. It also reduces expenses incurred from new HIV infections and from the demand of HIV treatment and care. In the last two years alone, the U.S. government via PEPFAR and CDC has facilitated male circumcision services for over 600,000 Zambian men. This success demonstrates what is possible through a U.S.-Zambia partnership”.
CIDRZ Chief Executive Officer Dr. Izukanji Sikazwe thanked the government of Zambia, through the Ministry of Health (MOH), for the continued partnership towards various health programmes the organisation has been implementing among them male circumcision services.
“ Through this partnership, the CIDRZ MC program has circumcised 190,000 males since inception in 2013. I would like to mention that the government of Zambia supported us to successfully complete the ShangRing Active Surveillance in May 2019, making Zambia the first in Africa to use ShangRing no-flip device method”.
Dr. Sikazwe said through PEPFAR and CDC partnership, CIDRZ has been providing direct support delivery (DSD) for staff supplies and equipment to MOH; robust and effective
ctive Adverse Event (AE) management to clients; best practice in demand creation and has been working with community leaders and traditional leaders as well as implementing the Human Centred Design (HCD) system for demand creation.
She added, “but most importantly this investment will make it possible for CIDRZ to bring male circumcision services even closer to the communities we work and will help us to provide world-class services wherever clients can be found, ensure infection prevention (IP), assist with demand creation with right branding, contribute towards HIV infection reduction and further compliment government’s efforts in ensuring that men are reached with all health services as possible”.