The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: Circumcision Extended to Makerere

Makerere University hospital has started offering safe male circumcision (SMC) services following the launch of the initiative by Makerere University Joint Aids Programme (MJAP).

The services are in line with the Ministry of Health's slogan, 'Stand Proud. Get Circumcised.'

Rigorous scientific research has demonstrated that safe male circumcision is one of the most effective interventions available today to prevent sexual transmission of HIV. In its National HIV Prevention Strategy for 2011-15 the government identifies safe male circumcision as one of five priority evidence-based bio-medical interventions to prevent transmission of HIV.

Researchers project that if eight in 10 adult men become circumcised within five years in 14 priority countries in Eastern and Southern Africa, approximately 3.5 million new HIV infections will be prevented. This will save $16.5bn in HIV care and treatment. Almost half of these new infections would be averted among women because their probability of encountering HIV infected sex partners decreases.

Accordingly, MJAP, together with the hospital, has trained high-performance circumcision teams that on a daily basis serve about 60 males.

"Over 10,000 males have received the service at this facility and MJAP is committed to hiring key staff to fill critical human resource gaps in the facilities; training of various cadres in all components of HIV/Aids prevention, care, support and treatment," Prof Nelson Sewankambo, Principal College of Health Sciences, Makerere University said.

MJAP started offering SMC services at the facility as part of a comprehensive HIV prevention, care and treatment package at the end of 2011. In Uganda, the US Presidential Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) has supported more than 450,000 circumcisions since April 2010 and its investment increased from over $1.6m in 2009 to over $ 31m in 2012.

"All of our PEPFAR partners in Uganda are accelerating their scale-up of circumcision services in order to contribute to the national target of one million men circumcised in 2013 which will help us reach the national target of 4.2 million eligible men undergoing the procedure by 2015," said US Ambassador Scott DeLisi during the function.

He, however, cautions men not to think of circumcision as a 'magic bullet' (a cure on its own which protects a person from HIV regardless of his actions and behaviour) and breaking down of myths that many hold about this intervention.

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