Over 20,000 circumcised since October
As Rwanda endeavours to reach its goal of having 50 percent men clinically circumcised by June 2013, as part of HIV prevention efforts, over 20,000 men have been circumcised since the campaign began in October 2010.
The free male circumcision programme has a target to have two million men circumcised by 2013.
According to the Coordinator of the National Circumcision Programme, Dr. Jennifer Mbabazi, they were derailed by the preparatory process but hope to hit the target by June 2013.
“We started with the training of at least two medical personnel in each District hospital who will be in charge of circumcision. We also carried training of trainers at the national level to train other medical personnel,” she said.
The training would benefit all health facilities, including private clinics.
Mbabazi added that they are also sensitising the public through Community Health Workers and the media to change the mindset of those with misconceptions and poor mindsets about circumcision.
It has been scientifically proven that a circumcised man has up to 60 percent chances of not contracting HIV during sexual intercourse.
Medical kits are provided to the health facilities for the circumcision exercise, therefore making the exercise free of charge at every centre, according to Mbabazi.
Currently, the programme is using circumcision surgery, which is the only method approved by World Health Organisation (WHO). However, Mbabazi is hopeful that WHO approves the PrePex system.
The PrePex system that was invented by a team of Rwandan physicians, works through a special elastic mechanism that fits closely around an inner ring, trapping the foreskin, which dries up and is removed after a week.
According to the Director of Kibagabaga Hospital, Dr. Christian Ntizimira, they carry out circumcision only on weekends but the turn up is enormous.
“We circumcised 500 people between November, last year and January 2012. We have 1,200 people on the waiting list yet we can only attend to at least 80 people per weekend,” Ntizimira disclosed.
The number of people in need of circumcision has grown compared to the previous years, and many demand for the expansion of the service through the Kibagabaga hospital suggestion box, he says.
Dr. Ntizimira said that plans are underway to decentralise the programme to health centres since the demand for circumcision is growing immensely.
Kibagabaga has a team of two medical doctors, seven nurses and four other staff members who assist in the whole process.
The Clinical Director of Rwanda Military Hospital, Dr. Jean Pierre Bitega, reiterated that demand for circumcision has grown ever since the campaign kicked off.
“We carry out circumcision on appointment, but lately, we get so many appointments and are even planning a mass circumcision campaign, two weeks from now,”Bitega added.
He said they mostly handle emergency cases but confirmed that the circumcision programme is actually going on flawlessly at.
Contact email: maria.kaitesi[at]newtimes.co.rw