In April 2013, the USAID funded SUSTAIN program joined other partners in implementation of Safe Male Circumcision activities (SMC) to prevent HIV infection in Uganda. The program conducted two SMC trainings at Jinja (eastern) and Fort Portal (western) Regional Referral Hospitals to increase accessibility and uptake of SMC by training healthcare workers to carry out SMC services and mobilize communities.
Richard Obeti (left) Medical Officer at Kibiito HC IV and Margaret Draru, Nursing Officer at Gulu Regional referral carry out a circumcision surgical operation during the practical training. Looking on is Joshua Barak Mwinike (right), one of the SMC trainers.
Taking part in the SMC trainings were 55 health workers from 13 SUSTAIN supported hospitals. However, at the request of the Kabarole District Health Officer, six health workers from Kibiito and Bukuku (health centre IVs) also attended the SMC training. The participating team consisted of medical officers, clinicians, nurses and counselors. By end of April, 20 trainees had gained surgical circumcision skills, 20 qualified as theatre assistants, and 21 trained as counselors. Apart from practical sessions, trainees attended classroom lectures, demonstrations, group discussions and simulations as part of the curriculum.
“What came out clearly during the training is how to give anesthesia. I now know which nerves I have to block before the operation starts. Then, the new dorsal slit method is quicker, easy to perform with less bleeding. I can even perform minor surgeries. I have learnt how to mobilize clients and maintain and sterilize used equipment,” Richard Obeti, Medical Officer at Kibiito HC IV, Kabarole district.
SUSTAIN program used several methods to encourage young adults and adult males to get circumcised. These included: radio programs, telephone calls and outreaches in surrounding communities (including education institutions, police barracks etc.). Another major source of client mobilization was linking those who test for HIV within hospitals to SMC within the same facility as part of a health care package.
Upon return to the hospitals, healthcare workers conduct static clinics and camps to promote SMC activities in the different regions. The SMC activities are part of the wider support to the Ministry of Health to achieve its set target of circumcising at least 80% (4.2 billion) of all men between 15-49 years of age by 2015.
Written By: Julian Natukunda, Communications Specialist, Fredrick Twebaze, Technical Advisor SMC and Deborah Murdoch, Health Systems Strengthening Advisor – URC SUSTAIN project