More than 150 people gathered to fill the seats and bleachers to witness the U.S. Government hand over a surgical field hospital to the Namibian Defense Force (NDF) on September 29, 2014. The NDF will use the tent to offer Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) services to all defense force personnel, free of charge. In addition, the tent will assist in providing counseling, testing, and referral services to stop the spread and stigma of HIV.
The self-contained medical theater tent includes a generator offering climate control for the comfort and health of patients as well as electricity and water systems. The medical theater tent and VMMC kits, valued at N$1,134,000, were donated by the United States Department of Defense with funding from the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
“This surgical tent, intended for the Namibian Defense Force, is just one aspect of the United States commitment to eliminate the spread of HIV in Namibia,” said U.S. Embassy Chargé d’ Affaires, a.i. Mr. John Kowalski at the event.
NDF personnel completed training on the medical tent systems last week and received certificates at the ceremony. The tent will begin its operation as a field hospital next week. After it serves the personnel in Windhoek it will travel the country to provide VMMC services for NDF personnel assigned to remote locations in Namibia where the soldiers do not have easy access to a hospital. Through this partnership, the U.S. Government is working with the Namibian Government to achieve the Ministry of Defense goal of 7,500 VMMCs for service members, their families, and the communities that surround their bases.
Studies have revealed that male circumcision, a low-cost medical procedure, reduces the risk of sexual transmission of HIV by 60 percent and reduces the risk of developing cervical cancer in women.
For the Namibian Defense Force this means healthier soldiers. Healthier soldiers mean a more ready Namibian Defense Force.
In addition to the surgical field hospital, the Ministry of Defense, with support from PEPFAR, has opened two static VMMC sites: one at Grootfontein Military Hospital and one at Peter Mweshihange Military Health Center in Windhoek. By working together, the United States and Namibian Governments are one step closer to achieving an AIDS-free generation.