20 November 2012

Tanzania: Male Cut Programme Bears Fruit in Kagera

OVER 25,000 males underwent circumcision in Kagera Region between 2009 to October, this year, a senior official with the International Centre for Aids Prevention (ICAP), Dr Song'oro Biki, has disclosed.

Dr Biki told the 'Daily News' that Kagera Region had also reduced HIV infection rate from 5.7 per cent to 3.7 per cent, largely due to the awareness campaign. He noted that a total of 12,597 males underwent the 'cut' between October, 2010 to September, 2011, while 12,471 others underwent circumcision in Kagera Region from October 2011 to October, this year.

"The response was quite promising as more people were showing up voluntarily for the cut. It is not true that people in Kagera Region hate being circumcised. More people including youths were taking the service. There are a few people who spread unfounded rumours that circumcision was anti-Christianity," he said.

Dr Biki said the service was being provided at the Bukoba Regional Hospital and Rubya Hospital in Muleba District, adding that plans were underway to provide the service at Maruku and Izimbya Wards, in Bukoba Rural District.

He further elaborated that ICAP, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, had extended male circumcision services to over 15 islands in the Lake Victoria Archipelago. The services include Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMCT) and availability of ARVs.

He said the target group was that of adults aged 25 years and above, adding that the response in rural areas was good compared to urban areas. The first HIV/AIDS patient was recorded in Kagera Region in 1983. Since then, the killer disease has been spreading at a fast rate claiming thousands of lives with over 150,000 AIDS orphans.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), circumcision can reduce HIV infections by almost 60 per cent. Meanwhile, the Kagera Regional Commissioner, Fabian Massawe, has urged the residents not to relax and should take precaution to avoid contracting HIV/AIDS by using condoms.

He said the region's economy had negatively been affected by HIV/AIDS and its aftermath, a challenge which should make people work even harder to speed up their development. He cited other challenges facing the region to include killing of albinos and elderly people.

A total of seven albinos were killed between 2008 -2010, raising fears about their lives. Others are environmental degradation, armed robberies, coffee smuggling to a neighbouring country, pregnancies among students and illegal immigrants.

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