A non-government organisation is targeting to circumcise 65, 000 men in North Pokot district as part of the campaign to combat the spread of HIV/Aids in the area. Speaking over the weekend at Konyao Secondary School during the official launching of the exercise, the Impact Research and Development Organisation director Kawango Agot said her organisation is partnering with the National Aids control Programme in the circumcision campaign. She said the HIV/Aids prevalence rate in the district is three per cent.
Agot said research has shown that male circumcision reduces the chances of catching the disease by 60 per cent compared to those who had not been circumcised. She said the one-year programme funded by USA Center for Disease Control and Prevention will target men aged 18-49, adding that it hopes to achieve 80 per cent male circumcision coverage in the district within the period.
The Kisumu based organisation, which has been implementing the voluntary medical male circumcision in in Nyanza Province, has now extended the services to Teso district in Western, Turkana and Pokot districts in Rift Valley Province. Information minister Samwel Poghisio, who presided over the launching of the exercise, lauded the initiative. He said the community stopped male circumcision in 1950s because of insecurity caused by cattle rustling and banditry perpetrated by Karamojong and Sebei of Uganda.
He said the Pokot elders banned male circumcision during the period following the mass killings of young initiates who were in seclusion. "Due to the mass killings of young initiates in seclusion by armed cattle rustlers from our neighbouring communities, the elders stopped the male circumcision to prevent further loss of men in order to strengthen the security of the community," said Poghisio.
The minister asked the residents to embrace the initiative to stop the spread of the killer disease. Poghisio, who was accompanied by 50 members of the Pokot Council of Elders led by their chairman paramount chief John Mwok endorsed the voluntary medical male circumcision and appealed to all uncircumcised men to turn out for the free circumcision.
The district Sexually Transmitted Infections/HIV/AIDS coordinator Leonard Tulel said mobile clinics will be set up in Kacheliba, Kiwawa, Konyao, Alale and Kasei divisions for the exercise. Tulel added that those circumcised will be treated until they recovered fully, educated on the dangers of HIV/Aids and on the importance of having protected sex to reduce the spread of the disease among the pastoralist community.