Is this an M.D. from a correspondence school?

When public health officials say voluntary, adult, …

The soldiers in the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) will be the first men to benefit from a government policy to use male circumcision as a tool in the fight against HIV/AIDS, according to senior health officials.

… The voluntary circumcision programme is expected to start in August.

“We will use the military as role models for the rest of the population – they are adult enough to give consent, and if young men see that soldiers are willing to suffer the pain of circumcision, they will also get the courage to do it,” said Dr Agnes Binagwaho, executive secretary of Rwanda’s national AIDS commission (CNLS).

… they never mean voluntary, adult. Never.

“After the military we will concentrate on students and, finally, on the general population; eventually we hope to move on to circumcising new-born babies, as long as research proves that it is advantageous and cost-effective to do so.”

Want to bet research will prove that infant circumcision will be advantageous and cost-effective, in spite of reality that Rwanda has “only one doctor for every 50,000 people”? Should it skew the analysis against infant circumcision that the rate of HIV infection in Rwanda is higher in circumcised men than in intact men? Of course, but it won’t. It’s so much easier to blame the foreskin than the male attached to the foreskin.


Also, should we put trust in Dr. Binagwaho when she couldn’t pass a basic statistics class?

“People must be made aware that although circumcision is beneficial, there is still a 40 percent risk of HIV transmission, so they must know that it must be used in conjunction with another HIV prevention method, such as condom use,” she said.

I expect those unfamiliar with statistics to make such a mistake. Is it too much to expect a doctor to be familiar with statistics?


Post Script: Based on the article’s closing paragraph about funding for Rwanda’s circumcision plan, I feel confident that I will eventually be able to remove my updated qualification from this entry. The plan outlined in the article is stated in Rwanda Fiscal Year 2008 Country PEPFAR Operational Plan (COP). We will continue throwing money at this ignorance.

One thought on “Is this an M.D. from a correspondence school?”

  1. Here’s the interesting thing about circumcision proposals. They’re a lot like tax reform proposals. They’re develop by bureaucrats who have little concept of the actual impact, they are painted in the most positive and glowing light, they never actually fix the real problems, and as far as the people are concerned, well it takes a while to realize they’ve been screwed but most will never admit it.

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