14 March 2012

Kenya: Voluntary Male Circumcision Set to Begin in Teso On Friday

Photo: Edward Echwalu
Many countries are short of resources to meet the high demand for male medical circumcision.

A door-to-door circumcision targeting males aged 15 to 49 will kick off in Teso starting Friday.

The Ministry of Health and USAid have launched the programme in Teso North and Teso South districts. The programme coordinator, Simon Lilechi, said phase one of the exercise will be undertaken during night time because of fear and ridicule on the candidates. Lilechi, a clinical officer at the Amukura Sub District Hospital, appealed to those eligible to volunteer themselves for the cut.

Unlike other communities, the Teso, Luo, Turkana and few people in Coast province undergo other rites of passage, which do not include circumcision. The government in 2008 in introduced a policy document which wanted circumcision to be promoted and delivered to males of all ages in a manner that is culturally sensitive to minimise stigma that may be associated with an uncircumcised person.

The World Health Organisation believes that circumcision lowers the risk of contracting HIV/Aids by 60 per cent. Lilechi appealed to Teso leaders to educate the residents on the importance of accepting to undergo voluntary male circumcision. "The main challenges facing the health team as it prepares to roll out the programme are married men who fear to be ridiculed by neighbours," he said.

"The programme will take three years until the Teso community accepts the fact that voluntary male circumcision is for males from all tribes." Male circumcision has been proven as a breakthrough prevention tool offering 60 percent protection against infection among heterosexual men. In 2007, WHO included male circumcision as an additional intervention to reduce the risk of acquiring HIV and other sexually transmitted infections in men.

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