Thursday, January 1, 2009

Rwanda: Embarks on Newborns' Circumcision

Joseph Mudingu
31 December 2008

Kigali — The Ministry of Health is to adopt a new policy of circumcising newly born babies as it is more sustainable in the long run and ten times cheaper than adult circumcision, Permanent Secretary in the ministry Dr Agnes Binagwaho has said.

Binagwaho said this yesterday during an exclusive interview at her office.

"As much as circumcision is important in the fight against HIV, the process in terms of technical know-how and equipment is very expensive especially for adults. But in infants, it is ten times less costly and more sustainable," Binagwaho said.

She said that government intends to integrate circumcision into the ordinary package given to newly born children because there are far less complications during the operation.

"We are working on modalities to ensure that all Rwandans who need the operation get it. However, it is still a long process because there is need to get skilled doctors and the necessary equipment ready before fully embarking on it," she said.

Binagwaho added that the government is mainly targeting two groups mainly students and the military. She however cautioned that as much as it helps in reducing the risk of acquiring HIV/AIDS, circumcision is not one hundred percent safe.

"It is only 60 percent safe and if you misbehave, you are likely to get the deadly virus so people should take into account the fact that chances of contracting the disease are 40 percent which is still high and risky," Binagwaho added.

She concluded that many other stakeholders are working with the government and have already carried out studies on how to go forward on this.