29 November 2007

Rwanda: Draw Circumcision Plans, U.S. Tells Govts

Kigali — The U.S. President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) has requested beneficiary governments to draft policies that encourage male circumcision to reduce on the risks of spreading of HIV/Aids.

The Principal Deputy Coordinator of PEPFAR, Dr Thomas Kenyon, said via a video link from the U.S., that PEPFAR was prepared to provide funds to any country that is willing to undertake mass male circumcision, Dr Kenyon said.

He was on Monday speaking to an audience at the American Embassy offices in Kigali where the teleconference was organised.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently recommended male circumcision as one of the measures to reduce the risks of acquiring HIV virus.

The organization said circumcised men have around 60 percent chances of not acquiring the virus during sexual intercourse.

"We can only release the funds for circumcision to a country which has come up with a clear policy on how it is going to carry out the exercise.

The policy document has to clearly indicate the health facilities that would be used to conduct the exercise," Kenyon said.

Rwanda recently announced a plan to conduct mass male circumcision as one of the ways to reduce risks of acquiring HIV among men.

Dr Kenyon said that Rwanda has registered great success compared to the other PEPFAR's 15 focus countries.

He said: "We highly appreciate the government of Rwanda for their effort in fight against HIV/Aids, we will continue working closely with all stakeholders in the fight against this pandemic."

Asked whether PEPFAR would continue after President George Bush's government, Kenyon said: "The fund would definitely continue after President Bush's government mandate that is expected to end by 2009.

We have developed a long term plan and I assure you the President Aids Plan has no time limit."

"By doing this, the President challenged other G8 members," Kenyon added.

The project, he said, will also continue to support capacity building in different dimensions and provision of Antiretroviral drugs.

He also said that his government is willing to finance Aids research initiatives among the PEFPAR recipient nations worldwide.

PEPFAR was initiated by U.S. President George W. Bush in 2003, with a total funding amounting to $15 billion to support anti-Aids programmes in fifteen countries worldwide, thirteen of them in Africa, including Rwanda.

In Rwanda alone, PAPFAR's engagements are worth $167 million (about Frw70 billion), and the project supports about 40 community and faith-based health schemes.

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