Zimbabwe Requires US$100 million for Male Circumcision

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha | Group Online At Large

HARARE, Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe requires US$100 million to achieve a target of 1,2 million voluntary male medical circumcision (removal of the foreskin of the male penis) among young men aged between 15 and 30, according to AIDS and TB Director, Dr Owen Mugurungi, adding that 71,185 circumcisions had been conducted since inception of the programme.

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“Our goal is to contribute to the reduction of HIV incidence by scaling up MC to reach 80 per cent of 15-29 year old HIV negative men by 2015 as part of a comprehensive HIV prevention programme,” said Mugurungi, adding that a total of 71,185 male circumcisions since inception of the programme in 2009.

Mugurungi said 80 per cent male circumcision coverage among adults 15-49 by 2015 could avert a total of 600 000 new HIV infections averted by 2025 with a total savings of US$3 billion in public health.

He added that male circumcision could lead to reduced risk of urinary infections in childhood, reduced risk of some STI’s, protection against cancer of penis, reduced risk of HPV infection  and cervical cancer in female sex partners and improved personal hygiene and prevention of  medical problems of the penis and foreskin such as phimosis, balanitis.

Mugurungi said that male circumcision should be provided as part of a comprehensive package of sexual reproductive health services and HIV prevention. He also emphasized that it was important to stress that male circumcision does not provide 100 per cent protection against HIV infection and STIs or protection against unwanted pregnancy.

No Condoms in Schools, Says Parirenyatwa

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha

Harare, Zimbabwe – Former Health and Child Welfare Minister, David Parirenyatwa said that distributing condoms at schools was a non-starter.

Adding his voice to the controversial proposal by the National AIDS Council (NAC) to distribute condoms at schools, Parirenyatwa said what is needed is schools is strengthening of sex education which could start as early as second grade.

“Let’s not entertain that debate of condoms in schools. It’s a non-starter. Let’s forget about putting condoms in schools. Of course, we can have condoms in tertiary institutions such as universities and colleges but in schools it’s a complete no-no,” said Parirenyatwa. “What we need instead is comprehensive sex education, and that can start quite early within the school system.”

The issue of putting condoms at schools recently hogged the media limelight following revelations by NAC that a consultant hired to review HIV and Aids policies in Zimbabwe had made the recommendation. Zimbabwe uses condoms as one of its HIV preventative measures. As a result of that the country has managed to reduce its HIV prevalence rate from over 20% to 14,2% in five years.

“In as much as we teach our children about protected sex, we need as well to provide them with the protection we will be teaching them. So we are saying condoms should be made available even in primary schools, because from the research we as UNFPA recently did it came out clearly that sex is happening in primary schools, with either teachers abusing young girls or even among the school children,” said Samson Chidiya, an official with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Neighbouring country, South Africa,  introduced the Children’s Act which gives children 12 years and older the right to access contraceptives in 2007.

But locally, the issue has been controversial to say the least. According to media reports, some parents said that such a development will negatively affect the education system, arguing that schools should not be allowed to become bases for sexual activities.

“It will worsen sexual activities among school pupils, so we do not want to permit such behaviour at schools. If condoms are given to them, that is the end of abstinence as school pupils will take it as a sign that we condone sexual behaviour at schools,” said one parent.

Deputy Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture, Lazarus Dokora said that his ministry will not give room for such a development as it is not government policy.