The Kenyan government is rolling out a plan that overlooks a few key issues.
The Kenyan government has embarked on an ambitious national programme to fast track the national rollout of male circumcision as a means of preventing HIV.
According to the new policy document, circumcision will be rolled out for males of all ages in a culturally sensitive way and in a clinically safe setting.
I searched for the policy document but haven’t been able to find it. Still, this says everything. Males of all ages. And they’re more worried about culturally sensitive ways than they are about human rights or common sense. These children aren’t having sex. And there are other, more important (the only?) reasons for the HIV epidemic in Kenya (italics added):
Why is there more AIDS in some parts of the country than in others?
Infection levels are generally higher in urban areas than in nearby rural areas, and some parts of western Kenya have the highest recorded rates in the country. HIV is still spreading in Kenya, so that many rural and urban areas that had low infection levels in the past are now experiencing higher infection rates. Many factors may contribute to these differences, such as high population density, more movement of people because of trading and migration routes, non-practice of circumcision, sexual networks within communities, and cultural practices such as wife-sharing and widow inheritance.
Fixing the “non-practice” of circumcision will solve nothing as long as the last two remain in practice. If, at the very least, the last two are properly compensated for with condoms, fixing the “non-practice” of circumcision will be unnecessary.
Worse, this mentality:
“Our pilot is a free mobile outreach, where a team of five members – a doctor, clinical officer, care assistant, nurse and driver – goes into various communities and sets up camp in a room at a local medical centre or in a tent, and invites people to come or bring their children for circumcision,” said George Obhai, monitoring and evaluation manager at Marie Stopes Kenya.
Before the mobile team arrives, the local hospital or clinic is contacted to conduct community mobilisation, and on the day every man getting circumcised receives counselling from a trained member of staff before the procedure is carried out.
“Interestingly, many of the ideas people have about male circumcision work in our favour, even among the Luo; for example, people believe that it improves the sexual experience and that ladies prefer circumcised men,” he added.
I respect the idea that moving from traditional circumcision to clinical circumcision will improve the situation for boys, however small the improvement. But to willingly embrace subjective nonsense because it works in your favor is absurd. Medical procedures on children must be based in science alone. There is medical need or there is not. Everything else is irrelevant and should be explained and disregarded as such when it appears.
This plan – as will all similar efforts around the world – will be properly seen as worthless failures when we analyze the long-term results many years from now.
It is now illegal to encourage the use of condoms in southeast Nigeria’s Anambra State. The state government has also banned the advocacy and distribution of other forms of contraceptives including IUDs (intrauterine device) and any other “un-natural” birth control.
“Instead of teaching children how to use condoms to enjoy sex they should be taught total abstinence,” the state commissioner for health, Amobi Ilika said when announcing the measures in late March at the state capital, Awka. “The use of condoms has greatly encouraged immorality,” he said.
The question of proper governmental role aside and an understanding that condoms are still available, what could possibly go wrong?