The Free State Department of Health in partnership with Mens' Campaign, Brothers For Life and Sonke Gender Justice Network joined forces and trained 65 medical male circumcision (MMC) social mobilisers from Letsweleputjwa and Xhariep who in turn are expected to spread the word about medical male circumcision and HIV counselling and testing services available to locals.
MMC is one of government's interventions in responding to HIV prevention. Circumcision reduces the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV transmission by as much as 60 percent.
The training that took place at the Free State capital was first of its kind and was aimed at taking through the social mobilisers through techniques that are geared to help create the demand of services. The techniques include door-to-door visits, clinic facilitation, workplace and schools.
The Free State training was used as a pilot and will be rolled to other provinces. This is in support of the National Strategic Plan 2012 - 2016 that put emphasis on linking communities with services.
Free State HIV/AIDS and TB Senior Manager, Yolisa Tshibolane applauded the civil society partners- Brothers Fort Life and Sonke Gender for their initiative in supporting the government's quest to take services to communities.
"The Department of Health recognises the hard work and difficulties that our community health workers endure while attempting to take services to the people and that is commendable. You are all in this room - health ambassadors of the Free State province"
Free State Men's Sector chairperson Doctor Mlaba echoed Tsibolane's the sentiment that the conditions that community mobilisers find them in are sometimes hard to work but hailed the team for their bravery in ensuring that communities are linked to service points from where they live.
"As Men's Sector - we support the Department of Health in their quest to reach people with services and spread positive messages around male norms.
Brothers For Life project manager Mandla Ndlovu was excited about the progress of the medical male circumcision campaign so far.
"This training will help the social mobilisers to carry out their duties more efficiently thus help people access health related services such as medical male circumcision, HIV counselling and testing and sexually transmitted infections, he concludes.