The Minister of Health and Social Services, Kalumbi Shangula has urged sexually active persons to make use of condoms and take necessary precautions to protect themselves from Sexually Transmitted Infectious (STIs).
According to Shangula, sexually transmitted infections pose a significant public health challenge as proven by available statistics that there has been an upward trend of such infections in the country, despite the commendable progress made by the government in reducing STIs and HIV infections.
Shangula made these remarks yesterday at the launch of the third edition of the national guidelines for the management of sexually transmitted infections.
Apart from congenital conditions or sexual violations, many cases of sexually transmitted infections occur because of the decisions that individuals make, he noted.
Shangula maintained that over the past five years, on average, more than 96 000 cases of sexually transmitted infections of different types are recorded at health facilities around the country every year.
“In this regard, it is critical and I call upon all sexually active persons to take the necessary precautions and protect themselves from such infections,” he urged.
Shangula further stressed that the simple decision of using a condom when engaging in sexual intercourse spares one month of unnecessary discomfort and pain, adding that a condom secures and protects a sexually active person’s health.
“It is for this reason that I urge sexually active members of society to make the conscious and deliberate choice to practice safer sex. This is what should be the norm, not the exception,” he emphasized.
The Minister mentioned that more than thirty different bacteria, viruses and parasites are transmitted through sexual contact while more than one million sexually transmitted infections are acquired every day worldwide and each year, there are an estimated 374 million new infections.
He further mentioned that syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis, hepatitis B, herpes simplex virus, and human papillomavirus remains the greatest incidences of sexually transmitted infections.
However, the Minister believes that, through deliberate interventions and programs, it is possible to successfully reduce the STI burden in the country.
Sexually transmitted infections have a direct impact on sexual and reproductive health through stigmatization, infertility, cancers, and pregnancy complications.
Shangula explained that the consequences of untreated or undiagnosed sexually transmitted infections are devastating, leading to severe health complications such as chronic diseases, neurological and cardiovascular disease, different types of cancers, infertility, premature birth, and stillbirths, as well as an increased risk of HIV transmission.
“It is for this reason that we, as the Ministry of Health and Social Services together with our partners and the people of Namibia, should spare no efforts to put in place measures that will help us reduce sexually transmitted infections in our communities,” he emphasized.
According to the Minister, the government will continue to provide the tools, such as condoms, for people to protect themselves. At the same time, the Minister urged those who are infected to not panic more as the government is doing everything to detect, diagnose and treat to restore health.Shangula has since urged stakeholders, partners, and Namibians to join hands to tackle the issue head-on, with a strategic, well-informed, and compassionate approach.