Scaling-up voluntary medical male circumcision – what have we learned?
Jenny H Ledikwe,1,2,* Robert O Nyanga,1,* Jaclyn Hagon,2 Jessica S Grignon,1,2 Mulamuli Mpofu,1 Bazghina-werq Semo1,2
1International Training and Education Center for Health, Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana; 2Department of Global Health, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA
*These authors are joint first authors
Abstract: In 2007, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the joint United Nations agency program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) recommended voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) as an add-on strategy for HIV prevention. Fourteen priority countries were tasked with scaling-up VMMC services to 80% of HIV-negative men aged 15–49 years by 2016, representing a combined target of 20 million circumcisions. By December 2012, approximately 3 million procedures had been conducted. Within the following year, there was marked improvement in the pace of the scale-up. During 2013, the total number of circumcisions performed nearly doubled, with approximately 6 million total circumcisions conducted by the end of the year, reaching 30% of the initial target. The purpose of this review article was to apply a systems thinking approach, using the WHO health systems building blocks as a framework to examine the factors influencing the scale-up of the VMMC programs from 2008–2013. Facilitators that accelerated the VMMC program scale-up included: country ownership; sustained political will; service delivery efficiencies, such as task shifting and task sharing; use of outreach and mobile services; disposable, prepackaged VMMC kits; external funding; and a standardized set of indicators for VMMC. A low demand for the procedure has been a major barrier to achieving circumcision targets, while weak supply chain management systems and the lack of adequate financial resources with a heavy reliance on donor support have also adversely affected scale-up. Health systems strengthening initiatives and innovations have progressively improved VMMC service delivery, but an understanding of the contextual barriers and the facilitators of demand for the procedure is critical in reaching targets. There is a need for countries implementing VMMC programs to share their experiences more frequently to identify and to enhance best practices by other programs.
Keywords: voluntary medical male circumcision, HIV prevention, health systems strengthening, Africa, facilitators, barriers
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