Policy environment and male circumcision for HIV prevention: Findings from a situation analysis study in Tanzania
National Institute for Medical Research, P.O. Box 1462, Mwanza, Tanzania
BMC Public Health 2011, 11:506 doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-506Published: 28 June 2011
Male circumcision (MC) has been shown to be effective against heterosexual acquisition of HIV infection and is being scaled up as an additional strategy against HIV in several countries of Africa. However, the policy environment (whether to formulate new specific policy on MC or adapts the existing ones); and the role of various stakeholders in the MC scale up process in Tanzania was unclear. We conducted this study as part of a situation analysis to understand the attitudes of policy makers and other key community and health authority decision makers towards MC, policy and regulatory environment, and the readiness of a health system to accommodate scaling up of MC services.
We conducted 36 key informants' interviews with a broad range of informants including civil servants, religious leaders, cultural and traditional gatekeepers and other potential informants. Study informants were selected at the national level, regional, district and community levels to represent both traditionally circumcising and non-circumcising communities.
Study informants had positive attitudes and strong beliefs towards MC. Key informants in traditionally non-circumcising districts were willing to take their sons for medically performed MC. Religious leaders and traditional gatekeepers supported MC as it has been enshrined in their holy scripts and traditional customs respectively. Civil servants highlighted the need for existence of enabling policy and regulatory environment in the form of laws, regulations and guidelines that will ensure voluntary accessibility, acceptability, quality and safety for those in need of MC services. Majority of informants urged the government to make improvements in the health system at all levels to ensure availability of adequate trained personnel, infrastructure, equipment, and supplies for MC scale up, and insisted on the involvement of different MC stakeholders as key components in effective roll out of medically performed MC programme in the country.
Findings from the situation analysis in Tanzania have shown that despite the absence of a specific policy on MC, basic elements of enabling policy environment at national, regional, district and community levels are in place for the implementation of MC scale up programme.