5 December 2011
Analyses show huge savings from African circumcision roll-out
by George Atkinson
The scaling up of voluntary medical male circumcision for HIV prevention in Africa would reap massive health cost savings for the impoverished nations most affected by HIV/AIDS, claim new studies appearing in the journals PLoS Medicine and PLoS ONE.
The first article, by Catherine Hankins of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, offers an introduction to the cost, impact and challenges of accelerated scaling up of circumcision programs and lays out the rationale for the move. The article effectively signposts the way forward to accelerate the scaling up of circumcision service delivery safely and efficiently to reap individual-and population-level benefits.
Another 8 studies also focus on the various factors that go into effective circumcision program expansion, including data for decision making, logistics, demand creation and human resources.
The cost savings are substantial, particularly in the context of nations with severely limited public health budgets. The analyses show that an initial investment of US$1.5 billion over 4 years to achieve 80 percent coverage of circumcision services in the 14 most affected countries would result in net savings of US$16.5 billion.
The researchers warn, however, that strong political leadership and stakeholder engagement - along with effective demand creation - will be essential in effectively expanding and maintaining voluntary circumcision programs.
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Source: Public Library of Science