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Zimbabwe government takes circumcision into the classroom
Phyllis Mbanje, The Standard (Zimbabwe)
December 08, 2013
Officials from the Ministry
of Health and Child Care have been going around schools in the country
disseminating information on procedures and benefits of male circumcision
to pupils, some as young as 12 years old, courting the ire of some
The officials however,
said they were targeting pupils in higher grades in both primary
and secondary schools. For anyone below the age of 18, consent for
circumcision has to be sought from the parent or guardian.
But some parents felt
that the issue of circumcision was being introduced too early and
might be harmful to the pupils.
Ministry of Health and
Child Care national male circumcision (MC) coordinator, Sinokuthemba
Xaba said the exercise was meant to furnish the pupils with information
which they would share with their families and help them make a
“The exercise is
merely for giving out information. We do not expect the pupils to
then make decisions but the parents, if they so wish, will then
consent in writing,” he said.
Xaba said in some instances
the schools had invited them to either give the lectures to the
teachers who would in turn filter the information down to the pupils,
or address the children directly.
“It differs with
schools; some allow us to interact directly with the pupils while
some prefer the officials to address teachers. Bottom line is that
it is all about disseminating the right information,” he said.
International Services (PSI) said there was nothing wrong with
disseminating information about circumcision to pupils.
He however, admitted
that some parents had reservations about the exercise.
“Even if the children
do not immediately put the information to use, it might help them
as young adults to know and appreciate the benefits of circumcision,”
Last month, Xara said
the programme faced a myriad of challenges which included limited
demand for the services among older men, inadequate human resource
and limited government funding.
This is despite the belief
that if the exercise is successfully rolled out, 212 449 infections
would be averted by 2025 while HIV prevalence would decrease to
4,4% by 2025 compared to an anticipated 7,3% if MC is not scaled
Parents who were attending
a graduation ceremony at a preschool in Meyrick Park in Harare recently
expressed mixed feelings over distribution of information about
circumcision to pupils.
“I do not see anything
wrong with the ministry giving information to the children as long
as they are mindful of the language they use and do not try to manipulate
the children,” said Sheila Hove from Harare’s Westgate
However, Robert Gwata
from Richwell Gardens in Mabelreign had this to say: “Surely,
that is a preserve of parents and guardians. Why should these guys
go to schools and try to sweet talk our children to have the procedure
done. We will have problems when they come home with their heads
full of things that they have no control over.”
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