A snip in time: What is the best age to circumciseThat is the question that may generate debate soon as government to launches plans to have babies circumcised as part of the safe medical circumcision campaign. Piloted in Kampala, Wakiso, Gulu and Rakai among other districts ahead of planned roll out.
The Health Ministry plans to roll out a new program to promote circumcision of newly born babies. It follows studies showing that neonatal male circumcision can be performed safely in resource-limited settings.
Researchers at Rakai Health Sciences Program, Uganda Virus Research Institute and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health successfully tested the acceptability of Mogen clamp, a device for carrying out early infant male circumcision. Mogen clamp is a reusable stainless steel devise that requires a new sterile blade for each procedure.
Dr. Kigozi, the Head of studies at Rakai HealthSciences Program told Uganda Radio Network that during the trials, newly trained clinical officers and midwives in four health centers in Rakai were trained on how to carry out the new method of circumcision.
Over five hundred babies aged 1-28 days were circumcised during the trial. Dr. Barbra Nanteza, the Coordinator of the Safe Male Medical Male Circumcision program told Uganda Radio Network that the device has been successfully tested in a number of districts and found acceptable among parents and health workers.
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Funding for the early Infant circumcision pilot is being provided by UN Children's Fund-UNICEF. According to Nanteza, with funding from UNCEF the service should be all over the country within two years.
She says early infant circumcision could in the long run take over from Safe Medical Circumcision once the 4.2 million male circumcision target is met. However, there is debate among different communities in the country whether their newly born babies should be circumcised.
In Gulu some of the mothers have resisted suggestions from Safe Medical circumcision staff to have their babies circumcised. Dr. Hope Kusasira, the Gulu Regional Referral hospital focal person in charge of circumcision says apart from HIV prevention, circumcision reduces the risk of foreskin injuries.
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Neonatal male circumcision has been proposed as one of the components of HIV prevention, which chiefly targets adolescent males and sexually active adult males. It is hoped that implementing neonatal male circumcision would have a more delayed impact on HIV prevalence and a cost-effective way of achieving a high level coverage of male circumcision.
Medical male circumcision reduces the risk of female-to-male sexual transmission of HIV by approximately 60%.
Since 2007, WHO and UNAIDS have recommended voluntary medical male circumcision as an additional strategy for HIV prevention, particularly in settings with high HIV prevalence and low levels of male circumcision. Medical male circumcision provides men life-long partial protection against HIV as well as other sexually transmitted infections.
However, it should always be considered as part of a comprehensive HIV prevention package of services and be used in conjunction with other methods of prevention, such as female and male condoms.