Integrated Regional Information Networks - January 18, 2012
DAR ES SALAAM, 18 January 2012 (PlusNews) - The demand for
medical male circumcision is growing among Tanzania's
non-circumcising communities, and officials say the country is on
track to surpass its goal of reaching 2.8 million men by 2015.
"The response is good and encouraging. Government and health
officials are very cooperative," said Charles Wanga, a
communications officer with Jhpiego, an NGO affiliated with Johns
Hopkins University that is working with the government to roll
out the programme in Iringa, a region in the southern Tanzanian
An estimated 67 percent of Tanzanian men are circumcised, but
prevalence varies from region to region; in some parts of western
Tanzania, circumcision levels are as low as 20 percent.
The programme - launched in 2011 - aims to circumcise 2.8 million
males aged between 10 and 34 within five years. It focuses on
seven regions in western Tanzania where levels of male
circumcision are particularly low: Iringa, Kagera, Mar, Mwanza,
Rukwa, Shinyanga and Tabora.
Wanga told PlusNews that the project aimed to circumcise 260,000
men and boys in Iringa by 2015; the first phase, which ended in
December 2011, was expected to cover 20,000.
"Up to September , 30,000 men and boys were circumcised
under the programme, which reflects success of 150 percent," he
According to Jhpiego, most of those volunteering for male
circumcision in Iringa are adolescent boys and unmarried men;
older, married men have been more reluctant to come forward.
Just 38 percent of Iringa men are circumcised; the region has an
HIV prevalence rate of 15.7 percent - about three times the
In the northwestern region of Kagera, more than 13,000 men and
boys underwent circumcision between 2010 and 2011, according to
Songoro Biki, an official with the NGO, International Centre for
AIDS Prevention, which is supporting male circumcision in the
"The response to the campaign is quite promising as more people
were showing up voluntarily for the 'cut'; we expect to reach
over 300,000 by 2015," he said.
He said the service was being provided at the Bukoba Regional
hospital and Rubya hospital, in Muleba district, adding that
plans were under way to provide the service at Maruku and Izimbya
Wards, in Bukoba Rural district.
The programme - supported by the Tanzanian government, the US
government and the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and
Malaria - provides the service free of charge; male circumcision
usually costs US$10-17. Tanzania has also trained nurses to
perform the procedure, as the country has a shortage of doctors.
Three randomized controlled trials in Kenya, South Africa and
Uganda provided evidence that male circumcision can reduce a
man's risk of becoming infected with HIV through heterosexual
intercourse by as much as 60 percent.
According to the UN World Health Organization, Tanzania needs to
circumcise some 1,373,271 men in order to achieve 80 percent
prevalence, which would potentially avert 200,000 new HIV
infections within five years.