9 November 2012

Tanzania: Elders Evade 'The Cut' in On-Going Campaign

Mpanda — MALE adults aged 50 years old and beyond in Rukwa and Katavi regions are dodging the on-going male circumcision exercise taking place in various health facilities in both regions, for reasons best known to themselves since it was launched last year.

Yet these old people are the ones encouraging their children to go through the scalpel. As a result, young men aged between 10 and 34 years have turned out in large numbers across the two regions. According to the latest statistics released since the male circumcision initiative started last year, only 12 'elderly men' voluntarily went through circumcision.

Only one was from Nkasi District, three each from Mpanda and Sumbawanga districts and five from Sumbawanga municipality. Among them one was above 70 years old.

Despite that poor response from 'elderly men,' according to the Katavi Rukwa Regional AIDS Control Coordinator, Dr Shadrack Mtulla, told participants of a three-day HIV and AIDS 2012 annual meeting held in Mpanda District, Katavi region that since the male circumcision initiative started last year, 10,951 males went through the scalpel in both regions and the response is promising thus far.

The initiative, according to Dr Mtulla, is funded by Walter Reeds HIV/AIDS Project which is operating from Mbeya Region, covering three regions including Mbeya, Rukwa and Ruvuma. "It has been reported that male circumcision prevents HIV between 50 and 60 per cent from the Randomized Control Studies in South Africa, Kisumu (Kenya) and Rakai in Uganda and Tanzania.

The rate of circumcision differ from one region to the other, some still perform it as a traditional rite while others do not. Rukwa region is among the regions which do not circumcise," added Dr Mtulla. According to Dr Mtulla , the objective of the campaign is to reach 341,787 males who have not been circumcised.

He further said that the World Health Organization (WHO) reports indicate that male circumcision can reduce HIV infections almost 60 per cent. "The prevalence of male circumcision is about 31.4 per cent. In order to have a healthy population in both Rukwa and Katavi regions who are free and productive, we need to provide sustainable, accessible and safe male circumcision," he added.

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