- Rwandan soldiers will benefit from a government policy of using male circumcision as a way to respond to HIV/AIDS, health officials said.
Early this year, Ministry of Health of Rwanda declared its intention to include male circumcision which reduces the risk being infected by HIV by 60 percent in country’s prevention programs. The voluntary program is expected to resume next month.
"We are going to use the army as a model for the rest of the population, as adults who would give consent, and if young people see that the army was prepared to suffer the pain of circumcision, will also have the courage to do it," said Agnes Binagwaho, executive secretary of the National Commission on AIDS in Rwanda (CNLS).
The program is also targeting general population, with the hope that the process would also be extended to newborn children.
Unlike many other cultures in the region, men and children in Rwanda are not circumcised as a traditional rite, so it is unclear exactly how many men are circumcised. It is assumed, however, that a small number is circumcised.
“We are currently conducting investigations to determine the percentage of men who are circumcised,” she said.
The Center for Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases of Rwanda, known as TRAC PLUS, will conduct a study on "knowledge, attitudes and practices" between the military to determine the necessary level of consciousness, followed by a survey among the general population before launching the program throughout the country in 2009.
"We are going to circumcise, for example 50 soldiers per week, would be very dangerous to carry out a mass circumcision in the army," said Ms Binagwaho.
The RDF will also encourage former rebels currently undergoing the process of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration to undergo circumcision as they prepare to reintegrate into civil society.
"We need to train medical personnel - doctors, nurses and clinicians - in our military hospitals, acquire the necessary equipment, and then initiate procedures," said Murego. The FDR has three military hospitals throughout the country.
Rwanda has more than nine million inhabitants, but has only one doctor for every 50,000 people and one nurse for every 3,900 people, thus increasing the number of medical personnel capable of performing the operation is vital to the success of the programme.
The program will be funded circumcision, inter alia, through the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children's Fund, and will be carried out in accordance with the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO).
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