By LAWRENCE ALURU
Siaya County: Plans are underway by Siaya County Committee on Health to make male circumcision mandatory.
The committee is set to table a Bill before the County Assembly in order to make the rite a law. If the Bill sails through, it would see men who have not undergone the cut, compelled to do so.
The committee’s Chairman Mathew Onduru yesterday said the Bill will not only look at the youth and the old in the society but seeks to include the newly born children.
“The proposed Bill requires that every born male child should be circumcised. It will also be helpful to the whole community since it will seek to accommodate the newly born male babies,” he said.
Onduru said if passed, the Bill will help in reduction of HIV infection rate by six per cent, adding that most men in Nyanza were exposed to the virus because they are not circumcised.
This comes more than five years after the former Prime Minister Raila Odinga launched the campaign to have Luo men circumcised to help contain the spread of HIV. The move saw several men throng health facilities for the cut.
It was during the same period that his brother Dr Oburu Odinga who was an assistant minister then, agreed to undergo the cut, a move that was seen as a boost to the campaign.
Also in the Bill is the inclusion of extension services by the Community Health Workers (CHW’s) to help in empowering the community on the circumcision issues.
Last week, Siaya County Health Director Dr Jackson Kioko urged residents to shun outdated cultural practices in a bid to control HIV infection rate in the area.
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Kioko said outdated cultural practices such as wife inheritance and failure to go for the male cut are some factors frustrating the fight against the virus in Luo Nyanza.
There have been many deaths in the region as a result of opportunistic infections in those infected with the virus but residents have always associated them with Luo culture, saying it is a curse.
At the moment, Nyanza region has embraced the cut and out of 450,000 targeted males about 426,000 men have undergone the cut, with 130,000 coming from Siaya County.
However, in a recent report titled Kenya Aids Indicator Survey 2012 released by Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia, HIV prevalence in Nyanza rose by 0.2 per cent over the past five years.