By CHRIS OCOWUN
Over 700 men in Gulu and Lira districts were circumcised in a one-week safe male circumcision campaign that ended in the two districts on Saturday.
This is part of the efforts by the Ministry of Health to meet the target of one million men circumcised by the end of this year as a way of reducing the risk of them catching HIV/AIDS scourge.
Dr. Barbra Nanteza, an official at the National Safe Male Circumcision (SMC) under the AIDS Control Programme (ACP) in the Ministry of Health, said only 2% of the men were found to have gotten circumcised when a recent HIV/AIDS indicator survey was conducted.
"And yet we want 80% of the men here circumcised as a preventive measure against HIV/AIDS," she said.
Nanteza noted that their target as ministry of health was to circumcise 1,000 men in Lira and Gulu during the one-week SMC campaign which was supported by Northern Uganda Health Integration To Enhance Services (NU-HITES).
She added that since the year started, a total of 220,000 men have been circumcised saying that from Monday to Friday when the SMC campaign was launched in Gulu and Lira districts, 259 men were circumcised from Gulu regional hospital, 178 at Lalogi health center IV and 238 circumcised at Lira regional referral hospital.
"We are carrying the SMC exercise only in Gulu and Lira districts because of the recent AIDS indicator survey that showed that only 2% of the men are circumcised and yet we want 80% of the men in Uganda circumcised as a preventive measure against HIV/AIDS," Nanteza told journalists at Gulu regional referral hospital.
She attributed the high turn-up of men for the SMC to the mobilization strategies through the village health teams, radios and local leaders. "70 students of Lalogi Secondary School also got circumcised when the head teacher of the school invited us to talk to them," Nanteza said.
She dismissed misconception that through such SMC all the Catholic and Anglican Church male believers were being converted to Islam. She explained that those to be circumcised are first counseled by the trained medical teams.
"We don't circumcise those with low blood pressure, STDs and HIV positive people since this is a preventive measure," Nanteza noted.
She added that after circumcision, they advised the men to abstain from sex for six weeks and not to over engage in risky sexual behaviours because they are circumcised. "We are looking for circumcision champions who can tell the communities the benefits of SMC," Nanteza said.
Sam Inginyu, the Senior Health Educationist in the Ministry of Health said that even the babies can be circumcised advising that those with STDs should first get treated before they can benefit from SMC.
The ministry of health trained 30 medical personnel in every district to carry out SMC.
Nanteza alleged that some political leaders talk negatively about SMC and yet HIV/AIDS infection is rising in Uganda.
She added that since 2009 ministry of health has circumcised 600,000 men saying that their target at the ministry is circumcise 4.2m men by 2015 to reduce the risk of catching HIV/AIDS.