Only 40 per cent of Rwandan men are circumcised, we want more, Ministry of Health says

Circumcision is not something popular in Rwandan culture. It’s still viewed as something for children.

More Rwandan males are embracing circumcision, but the Ministry of Health says the number is not yet at the levels they would like to see.

According to the Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), in the last two months, 35,000 males have signed up for the Voluntary Male Medical Circumcision programme.


The RBC Manager in Charge of Male Circumcision, Arlette Nikokeza, pointed out that men above 20 are the most reluctant to undergo the procedure yet science shows that circumcision reduces the chance of catching HIV through sexual intercourse by 60 per cent.


“Circumcision is not something popular in Rwandan culture. It’s still viewed as something for children. 70 per cent of the people who attend the programme are below the age of 20,” she said.


The 2010 and 2015 demographic and health survey shows an increase of male circumcision prevalence from 13 per cent in 2010 to 29.6 percent in 2015.

For the City of Kigali (CoK) the high voluntary circumcision was prevalent among adolescents aged 20-24 with 33.9 per cent and 50.2 percent in 2010 and 2015, respectively.

Nikokeza said that the government will continue to sensitize men about the advantages of circumcision.

The programme

In 2009, the government embarked on a campaign to encourage more males to get circumcised.

RBC and Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) through Army Week partnered and began giving free procedures all over the country.

Information availed by RBC says that this special initiative continues and hopes to see at least 65 per cent males get circumcised by the end of this year.

While the government offers this service free of charge, a min-survey done by The New Times indicates that in private hospitals, the cost can be a hindrance.

For instance, circumcision at Legacy Clinics is Rwf120,000 while at Baho International Hospital, the procedure costs Rwf100,000.

The price falls to a paltry Rwf6, 000 for those with Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB) insurance cover.

At district hospitals and health centres, the procedure costs between Rwf5, 000 and Rwf10, 000 but most people who frequent these hospitals say that they can’t afford this fee.

According to official statistics, in 2019, some 349,000 men were circumcised. Since 2009, at least 39.9 males have been circumcised.

What is non-surgical circumcision (PrePex)?

In 2013, Rwanda started using a device called PrePex that has made mass non-surgical circumcision easier than ever.

PrePex has proved practical for low-resource settings and large-scale rollout.

PrePex circumcision only requires two tetanus immunisation shots and a clean environment, usually conducted by a trained nurse, and takes approximately five minutes.

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