MORE than 80 000 males were circumcised countrywide from January to October 2013 this year representing 76% of the annual target of 115 000 circumcisions, the Health and Child Care ministry has revealed.
The ministry’s director of Aids and TB programme, Owen Mugurungi, said 87 858 males were circumcised from the beginning of the year up to October.
The ministry was confident of achieving the set target.
“The progress so far has been overwhelmingly encouraging, although we need to continue working hard in ensuring that we carry on providing high standards of services and creating informed demand for male circumcision,” Mugurungi said.
He said the Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision programme had faced some teething problems like any other new intervention, but the ministry was happy with the results so far.
“Firstly, the programme has had to go through an extensive exercise of capacity building of relevant health staff to ensure that they are confident to provide services of the highest quality possible.
“The training of circumcision teams took long and partly slowed down the roll-out of the programme to new districts.
“The programme has also faced the challenge of myths and misconceptions concerning male circumcision. Those myths and misconceptions have been a deterrent factor and contributed to the initial scenario of a low response to the programme,” he said.
“It also faced logistical challenges, particularly with regards vehicles.
“In this regard, some circumcision teams from our districts have not been able to consistently travel to the hard-to-reach areas in their districts to provide the service there.”
He said the ministry had put in place mechanisms to ensure that the training was decentralised thereby increasing the number of circumcision staff.
The ministry, Mugurungi said, is currently working hard to increase the options of providing the actual male circumcision procedure.
One of these innovative options is the Prepex device, which is a non-surgical procedure for male circumcision.
“The Prepex device, which has been approved by the World Health Organisation, will be rolled out in the course of 2014. The device, will not replace the current surgical procedure, but will be an additional method of circumcision available in the country.
“The (ministry) continues to emphasise that circumcised men should use male or female condoms (correctly and consistently), reduce the number of sexual partners and/ or abstain from sex, where possible, particularly the younger males,” Mugurungi added.