Press Releases 2009
First National Training of Male Circumcision Providers for HIV Prevention
September 3, 2009
The First National Training of Male Circumcision Providers is being held at the Primary Health Care Institute in Iringa Town. Since 2006, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has been studying the benefits of male circumcision and this training is a major step towards improved male circumcision services in Tanzania.
During the training, Tanzanian clinicians and nurses from Iringa Regional Hospital, Kagera Regional Hospital, Mbeya Referral Hospital and the TPDF Lugalo Hospital will learn about the delivery of male circumcision services for the purpose of HIV prevention.
Officiating at the opening ceremony, Regional Medical Officer and Acting Regional Administrative Secretary for Iringa Dr. Ezekiel Mpuya said, “We are thrilled to announce that services to provide male circumcision for HIV prevention are beginning here at Iringa Regional Hospital and in locations around Tanzania shortly. In Iringa HIV prevalence is known to be high and male circumcision rates are low. By making voluntary male circumcision services available at the affordable cost of 5,000 Tsh here in Iringa, we hope to make additional HIV prevention options available to people who need them.”
Male circumcision, one of the world’s oldest medical procedures, is the removal of the foreskin of the penis. Scientific studies carried out in Kenya, Uganda and South Africa have shown that, while not 100 percent effective, male circumcision can help reduce HIV infection in men by up to 60 percent.
It can also provide protection against some other sexually transmitted infections. Additional benefits of male circumcision include improved hygiene, and a decrease in infections of the foreskin.
Male circumcision is widespread in some areas of Tanzania, especially along the Coast, and more uncommon in other areas like the Southern Highlands. Many circumcisions are currently performed by traditional circumcisers for religious or cultural reasons. Medical male circumcision has been proven safe and effective when performed in clinical settings. The risks are similar to those of any minor medical procedure.
Hally Mahler, Male Circumcision Program Director for Jhpiego, an NGO partner on the pilot project noted, “Male circumcision alone cannot prevent the acquisition of HIV.” Comparing male circumcision to the goal keeper of a football game, Ms. Mahler noted, “The first line of defence against HIV continues to be the ABC behaviours; abstinence, faithfulness, partner reduction and condom use – they are the players of the football game. Male circumcision can provide an extra layer of defence against HIV for men, like the goal keeper in a football game. But everyone knows that the goal keeper alone cannot be responsible for keeping the ball out of the goal. It takes the whole team.”
This initiative is supported by the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Men in Iringa interested in learning more about male circumcision services can visit the Iringa Regional Hospital (Reception Desk) to receive information and services.