Traditional male circumcision practices among the Kurya of North-eastern Tanzania and implications for national programmes

Health Systems and Policy Research, National Institute for Medical Research, Mwanza, Tanzania.
AIDS Care (Impact Factor: 1.6). 04/2011; 23(9):1111-6. DOI: 10.1080/09540121.2011.554518
Source: PubMed


The World Health Organisation and the Joint United Nations Programme on AIDS recommend male circumcision (MC) as an additional intervention against HIV infection. Various sub-Saharan African countries are at different stages of rolling out MC programmes. Despite initial fears, studies conducted among traditionally non-circumcising communities in Africa have shown that MC is widely accepted as a biomedical intervention. However, little is known on how traditionally circumcising communities where MC carries considerable social meaning and significance would respond to such programmes. This study was conducted among a traditionally circumcising community in Tarime district in Tanzania as part of a national situation analysis prior to initiating a national MC programme. It employed key informant interviews and focus group discussions for data collection. Results show that the Kurya ethnic group practice MC as a rite of passage from childhood to adulthood. Each clan organises its own circumcision ceremony, which takes place every even numbered years. Clan leaders and traditional circumcisers are central to its organisation. Among the Kurya, there is high regard for traditional MC as it is perceived as upholding cultural practice and identity. It also embodies notions of bravery since anaesthetics are not used. On the other hand, medical MC is not viewed as prestigious since anaesthetics are used to suppress pain. Social pressure for traditional MC is applied through ridiculing of those uncircumcised or circumcised at health facilities. In general, there are positive attitudes towards MC as it is perceived as enhancing personal hygiene and having a protective effect against sexually transmitted infections. For the success of nation-wide MC programmes, there is need to develop programmes that incorporate both clinical and sociocultural interests.

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    • "Most often, communities who engaged in traditional cutting in Africa were largely opposed to the medically performed procedure due to issues related to stigma, cost and cultural significance [5,75,94,95]. Although maintaining cultural significance plays an important part in PNG, many respondents from traditionally circumcising communities were supportive of a HW completing the procedure as part of traditional ceremony in the village. "
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    ABSTRACT: The success of health programs is influenced not only by their acceptability but also their ability to meet and respond to community expectations of service delivery. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) have recommended medical male circumcision (MC) as an essential component of comprehensive HIV prevention programs in high burden settings. This study investigated community-level perceptions of MC for HIV prevention in Papua New Guinea (PNG), a setting where diverse traditional and contemporary forms of penile foreskin cutting practices have been described. A multi-method qualitative study was undertaken in four provinces in two stages from 2009 to 2011. A total of 82 in-depth interviews, and 45 focus group discussions were completed during Stage 1. Stage 2 incorporated eight participatory workshops that were an integral part of the research dissemination process to communities. The workshops also provided opportunity to review key themes and consolidate earlier findings as part of the research process. Qualitative data analysis used a grounded theory approach and was facilitated using qualitative data management software. A number of diverse considerations for the delivery of MC for HIV prevention in PNG were described, with conflicting views both between and within communities. Key issues included: location of the service, service provider, age eligibility, type of cut, community awareness and potential shame amongst youth. Key to developing appropriate health service delivery models was an appreciation of the differences in expectations and traditions of unique cultural groups in PNG. Establishing strong community coalitions, raising awareness and building trust were seen as integral to success. Difficulties exist in the implementation of new programs in a pluralistic society such as PNG, particularly if tensions arise between biomedical knowledge and medico-legal requirements, compared to existing socio-cultural interests. Community participatory approaches offer important opportunities to explore and design culturally safe, specific and accessible programs.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2013 · BMC Public Health
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    • "In view of the continuing scaling up of male circumcision in sub Saharan Africa including Tanzania as part of the HIV intervention strategy, it was encouraging to note that the participants were able to come up with suggested strategies to facilitate MC including sensitization to parents who take their children for reproductive child health services (RCH) and use of radio programs. This is in keeping with the observation that MC is widely accepted in Tanzania as reported in various studies (Nnko et al., 2001; Weiss et al., 2008; Wambura et al., 2009; Mshana et al., 2011, Kilima et al., 2012,). Previous studies in sub Saharan Africa have reported on strategies to scale up MC ( Ngalande et al., 2006; WHO, 2007; Wambura et al., 2009) such as circumcision campaigns in non-circumcising communities, reducing the cost for a circumcision procedure and sensitizing women attending RCH clinics. "
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    ABSTRACT: Male circumcision (MC) reduces the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STI) including HIV. The WHO and UNAIDS recommend male circumcision as an additional intervention to prevent HIV infection. Tanzania is embarking on activities to scale up safe male circumcision for HIV prevention and other related health benefits. In line with this, it is crucial to assess views of the population using specific groups. This paper describes perceptions on male circumcision and strategies of enhancing uptake of male circumcision in urban Tanzania using members of the police force. This cross sectional survey was conducted among members of the police force in Dar es Salaam Tanzania from January 2010 to July 2010. The police officer serves as a source of the clinical trial participants in on-going phase I/II HIV vaccine trials. Three hundred and thirteen (313) police officers responded to a self-administered questionnaire that comprised of socio-demographic characteristics, reasons for not circumcising, perceptions regarding circumcision, methods of enhancing male circumcision, communication means and barriers to promote circumcision. This was followed by a physical examination to determine male circumcision status. The prevalence of circumcision was 96%. Most (69%) reported to have been circumcised in the hospital. The reported barriers to male circumcision among adults and children were: anticipation of pain, cost, fear to lose body parts, and lack of advice for adult's circumcision. Sensitization of parents who take children to the reproductive and child health services was recommended by most respondents as the appropriate strategy to promote male circumcision. The least recommended strategy was for the women to sensitize men. Use of radio programs and including male circumcision issues in school curricula as means of enhancing community sensitization regarding male circumcision were also highly recommended. Other recommendations include use of public media, seminars at work and issuance of circumcision regulations by health authorities. In conclusion, the present study reveals male circumcision was common in a selected urban population. There are various barriers and channels of communication regarding male circumcision. In view of scaling male circumcision in Tanzania, use of radio messages, inclusion of male circumcision in the school curricula and sensitization at the reproductive and child health clinics are likely to promote early medical male circumcision.
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    • "In most cases these traditional practices are sanctioned by clan leaders. A recent study has revealed that traditional circumcision practices for cultural reasons are still common in Tanzania [28]. Furthermore, the practice of inheriting widows and wife sharing in the form of in-laws sexual relationships is also taking place in several districts of Kagera region in Tanzania [The Tanzania Red Cross Society & Danish Red Cross, unpublished report]. "
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    ABSTRACT: A thorough understanding of the contexts of sexual behaviour of the people who are vulnerable to HIV infection is an important component in the battle against AIDS epidemic. We conducted a qualitative study to investigate perceptions, attitudes and practices of sexually active people in three districts of northern Tanzania with the view of collecting data to inform the formulation of appropriate complementary interventions against HIV and AIDS in the study communities. We conducted 96 semi-structured interviews and 48 focus group discussions with sexually active participants (18-60 years of age) who were selected purposively in two fishing and one non-fishing communities. The study revealed a number of socio-economic and cultural factors which act as structural drivers of HIV epidemic. Mobility and migration were mentioned to be associated with the risk of HIV acquisition and transmission. Sexual promiscuous behaviour was common in all study communities. Chomolea, (a quick transactional sex) was reported to exist in fishing communities, whereas extramarital sex in the bush was reported in non-fishing community which was predominantly Christian and polygamous. Traditional practices such as Kusomboka (death cleansing through unprotected sex) was reported to exist. Other risky sexual behaviour and traditional practices together with their socio-economic and cultural contexts are presented in details and discussed. Knowledge of condom was low as some people mistook them for balloons to play with and as decorations for their living rooms. Acute scarcity of condoms in some remote areas such as vizingani (fishing islands) push some people to make their own condoms locally known as kondomu za pepsi using polythene bags. HIV prevention efforts can succeed by addressing sexual behaviour and its socio-economic and cultural contexts. More innovative, interdisciplinary and productive structural approaches to HIV prevention need to be developed in close collaboration with affected communities and be closely related to policy-making and implementation; to go beyond the limited success of traditional behavioural and biomedical interventions to particularly address the underlying social and structural drivers of HIV risk and vulnerability in the study communities.
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