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Male circumcision prioritised in Zimbabwe.

In 2009, Zimbabwe's Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, in conjunction with the NGO Population Services International, established five male circumcision pilot sites. The government has now set a goal to circumcise 1.2 million men by 2015. It aims to reach all willing eligible men, after which circumcision will be extended to infants. 30,000 men have been circumcised so far, free of charge. There was initially widespread scepticism as to whether the country--whose health system had been starved of resources, drugs and equipment for years--had the capacity to provide mass male circumcision. A health worker strike in 2008 shut down public health services for several months. The loss of qualified nurses and doctors who left to work in other countries made it difficult to deliver the service, which had to be delayed, but a nationwide campaign promoting male circumcision was launched, in 2009, the programme's first facility in Harare had the capacity to circumcise eight men per day. Initially it had eight doctors and 18 nurses, but this has now been increased to 40 doctors and 160 nurses. The procedure now takes 15 minutes compared to 30 minutes previously, and counselling time has been reduced from two hours to 1.5 hours. The programme is financed by external donors as well as the government, who provide health facilities and some staff. (1) Whether this is the best use of health professionals and a health facility in a situation where the health system is in such difficult straits is not discussed in this news bulletin.

(1.) Zimbabwe: Rate of male circumcision speeds up. IRIN PlusNews, 8 July 2011.

DOI: 10.1016/S0968-8080(11)38588-6

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Title Annotation:ROUND UP: HIV and AIDS
Publication:Reproductive Health Matters
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:6ZIMB
Date:Nov 1, 2011
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