By Chimwemwe Njoloma
Lilongwe, September 25, Mana: Jhpiego has revealed that the Covid-19 pandemic has enormously affected service delivery on Voluntary Male Medical Circumcision (VMMC) reducing their 2019-2020 annual targets to 27,894 from 52,000 in 2018-2019.
This is according to a report that Jhpiego presented on Thursday during a District Aids Coordinating Committee (DACC) at Lilongwe District Council.
Making the presentation, Community Mobilization and Communication Officer for Jhpiego, Davie Nkombezi said this has been due to Covid-19 guidelines and effects which led to suspension of the services at Bwaila Hospital.
He said the situation automatically affected all service points where VMMC was being conducted affecting their mobile van services as they had to stop.
Nkombezi said that Ministry of Health announced early April that all non-essential services be suspended, that included the VMMC as one of the Covid-19 preventive measures and numbers have on kept on declining.
“Because of Covid-19 preventive guidelines, major campaigns and awareness meetings for VMMC were suspended with immediate effect,” he revealed.
The Officer added that, “This contributed to less or no men seeking for circumcision. However, we hope that things would get back to normal once Covid-19 is managed.”
He said male circumcision in this case is done as a preventive measure from HIV and a recent international research conducted by medical experts has shown that boys aged 10 are not sexually active hence opted out of the targeted group for VMMC contributing to less numbers too.
Health Promotion Officer for Bwaila Hospital, Richard Mvula said it was true that Jhpiego’s service centre was turned into a treatment centre for Covid-19 patients and that had an impact on their operations.
“We had run out of space and the hospital recommended that we turn the centre into a treatment facility,” he added.
Mvula said looking at the situation; it was hard to allocate them another space as they were trying to observe the guidelines issued by government which one of them was to suspend all non-essential services.
He said that Jhpiego could for the mean time source for an office space to continue offering the service while observing all preventive measures.
“We are not yet sure as to when we will free up the space for them to re-occupy. We recommend that they look for a recommended space to continue offering the services while we wait for the situation to normalize once covid-19 is managed,” Mvula pointed out.