by Ben Taylor

President Kikwete to chair global health panel
United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, has appointed President Jakaya Kikwete to be chairman of a new global panel to recommend ways to prevent and manage future health crises, taking into account lessons learned from the outbreak of Ebola virus.

The panel will hold its first meeting in early May and is expected to submit its final report by the end of the year to the UN Secretary General for further action as appropriate.

WHO and UNAIDS recommendations emphasise that male circumci­sion should be considered an efficacious intervention for HIV/Aids prevention in countries and regions with heterosexual epidemics, high HIV/Aids and low male circumcision prevalence.

HPIEGO, a non-profit health organisation affiliated with Johns Hopkins University, recently completed a five-year voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) project in three regions of Tanzania – Iringa, Njombe and Tabora, targeting those aged between 10 and 49 years.

Conducted in collaboration with National Aids Control Program (NACP), the programme managed to reach out to more than 210,000 adolescent and adult males in Iringa and Njombe Regions, and 220,000 people in Tabora Region.

Dr Wanga noted that the project was a success story of change, innovation and evolution on how the three regions went from being traditionally non-circumcising regions to the majority circumcised in just a few years.

Commenting on the achievements, the Iringa regional medical officer, Dr Robert Mahimbo, said he was grateful to JHPIEGO and to the US for their support. “We hope the US will continue supporting efforts of bringing down HIV/Aids transmission in our region,” he said.

Experts say male circumcision provides only partial protection and, therefore, should be only one element of a comprehensive HIV/Aids prevention package, which includes: the provision of HIV/Aids testing and counselling, treatment for sexually transmitted infections, promotion of safer sex practices, provision of male and female condoms and promotion of their correct and consistent use.

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