The Star (Nairobi)

29 November 2012

Kenya: Male Cut Aims At 150,000 in Turkana

The voluntary medical male circumcision programme will begin in Turkana next week. The programme's aim is to reduce the rate of HIV infection.

Turkana medical officer Joseph Epem said his department is training health workers in the county to carry out the circumcision. He said the procedure will be free of charge.

The progrmme targets Turkana Central, east, north, west, south and Loima districts. Epem said they will also provide counselling, sexual transmission infections screening and issuing of condoms.

According to research done in several countries, circumcision reduces the rate of HIV infection in men by at least 60 per cent. "By protecting men, women are also protected," Epem said.

The medical officer said only 5,000 Turkana men who live in urban areas are circumcised. "Those who have been circumcised are school-going boys, men living in urban areas and those on casual employment. Most pastoralists are not," said Epem.

The Ministry of Health aims to circumcise 150,000 sexually active men. "We want to circumcise 1,200 men next month," he said. The Turkana culture does practise male circumcision.

According to Kenya Aids Indicators Survey of 2007, the HIV prevalence rate in Turkana is 9.1 per cent compared to the national prevalence of 7.1 per cent.

Epem said the discovery of oil in Turkana and the construction of Kitale-Lodwar road will attract more people in Lodwar and the infection rate may increase if the men will not undergo the cut.

Last year, the government and Nyanza Reproductive Society started the programme but it hit a snag following disagreements in the community.

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