Circumcision effective tool in HIV fight

CIRCUMCISION has been hailed as a programme with high impact results in the fight against HIV/AIDS with over 100, 000 males being circumcised by the end of 2014, Health Minister Joseph Kasonde revealed yesterday.

And Dr Kasonde has called on the newly unveiled 15-member National Aids Council (NAC) board to come with fresh ideas and initiatives aimed at reducing HIV/AIDs in Zambia.

Dr Kasonde said over 109,000 males aged between 15 and 49 were circumcised by the end of December 2014.

He was speaking during the inauguration ceremony of the NAC board members.

Dr Kasonde said another programme with high impact was the elimination of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV (eMTCT) with over 80 per cent of HIV infected pregnant mothers receiving ARVs.

Dr Kasonde said he expected the new board to yield high returns in line with the recently launched National HIV and AIDS Strategic Framework (NASF) for 2014 to 2016.

He said under the current framework HIV Testing and Counseling (HCT) was over two million people testing for HIV annually.

Dr Kasonde observed that under the current framework, there was also an increase in condom use among all age groups.

He said social and behavioural change had recorded significant reduction in people reporting more than one sexual partner among the female youths between 15 and 24 years.

Dr Kasonde implored the board members to achieve expected results in their discharge of their duties by recording higher returns compared to the 2014 to 2016 framework.

“Cabinet approved your individual appointments with a firm conviction that the requisite attributes you possess would further add value to Government’s work of turning the tide of the AIDs epidemic,” he said.

Dr Kasonde said he had no doubt that the new board would utilize diverse expertise from different professional backgrounds in the interest of beneficiaries of the national HIV and AIDS programme.

“Be mindful that you have been appointed at a time of a sustained global financial lull with its debilitating effects particularly on developing countries’ capacities to provide citizens with adequate social service such as health, education and clean water,” he said.

Dr Kasonde said the financial landscape had jolted their collective minds to shift focus on more efficient and effective practices which yielded higher returns.

He said he had taken keen interest in knowing how scarce resources dedicated for HIV work were utilized.

Those appointed included Professor Elwyn Chomba, Chishimba Nkosha, Davy Misheck, Agness Musunga, Victor Kamtambo, Rachael Kalaba, Cleophas Lungu, Sikawetu Chipaya, Mary Zulu, Natasha Banda, Kenneth Maduma, Kashita Solo, George Tembo (chairperson), Mercy Siame and Chilufya Siwale.