Number of Circumised Males In Zimbabwe Doubles

This figure has more than doubled from last year’s figures of 3 000 men when the programme was launched.

The government is targeting to reach 80 percent of men aged from 15 to 29 years by 2015, about three million men, as a way to reduce HIV transmission in the country.
However the programme has been hit by a critical human resource constraint because of lack of incentives. So far 104 doctors have been trained but only few of these are performing the operations.

Updating stakeholders on the achievements of the programme, Ministry of Health and Child Welfare National HIV Prevention Coordinator AIDS & TB Unit, Getrude Ncube, said there was a low uptake of the programme by the few doctors who were trained to do the operations.

“The programme has been faced by a human resource problem especially shortage of  doctors, counselors and nurses at some sites( task sharing/task shifting).There is low buy-in by staff not involved because of  poor  remuneration and we are urging the responsible authorities to offer incentives to health workers involved in the programme,” she said.

University of Zimbabwe College of Health Science lecturer, Professor S Rusakaniko, said there was need for the inclusion of circumcision operations in the medicine training curriculum.

“ We are saying  circumcision is not  one of the major operations doctors do …We need to demystify it and make sure that its part of our training in the curriculum of the medical school because if we say those who are carrying out circumcision should be rewarded we will be killing the health sector,” he recommended.

Zimbabwe has one of the highest HIV prevalence in the world – 13.7 ‘per cent’ in the 15 to 49 age group according to Ministry of Health statistics from 2009.

The figures have however, been improving since 2007 when prevalence was more than 18 ‘per cent’.

Officials say this is largely due to promotion of condoms, abstinence, and faithfulness to one partner.

Circumcision reduces the risk of HIV infection because the inner layer of the foreskin is particularly susceptible to tearing and abrasions during sex, allowing the virus to enter the bloodstream more easily.

However there is only a 60 percent chance that a circumcised man will not get the HIV virus from an infected partner and health analysts say it should not be viewed as a magic bullet but should be used together with other ways of Aids prevention such as abstinence and condom use.