Male circumcision: towards a World Health Organisation normative practice in resource limited settings

Asian J Androl. 2010 Sep;12(5):628-38. doi: 10.1038/aja.2010.59. Epub 2010 Jul 19.


There is now grade 1 evidence that male circumcision (MC) reduces the risk of a man acquiring HIV. Modelling studies indicate MC could in the next 10 years save up to 2 million lives in those African countries with high HIV prevalence. Several African countries are now scaling up public health MC programmes. The most effective immediate public health MC programmes in Africa will need to target 18-20 years old men. In the longer term there is a need for infant circumcision programmes. In order to implement more widespread MC there is a need to make the surgical procedures as simple as possible so that safe operations can be performed by paramedical staff. The WHO Manual of Male Circumcision under local anaesthetic was written with these objectives in mind. Included in the manual are three adult techniques and four paediatric procedures. The adult procedures are the dorsal slit, the forceps guided and the sleeve resection methods. Paediatric methods included are the plastibell technique, the Mogen and Gomco shield method and a standard surgical dorsal slit procedure. Each method is described in a step by step manner with photographic and line drawing illustrations. In addition to the WHO manual of surgical technique a teaching course has been developed and using this course it has been possible in one week to train a circumcision surgeon who has had no or minimal previous surgical experience. Further scaling will require training of circumcision surgeons, monitoring performance, training the trainer workshops as well as advocacy at national, international and government meetings. In addition to proceeding with standardised methods work is in progress to assess novel techniques in adults such as stay on ring devices and policies are being formulated as to how to assess new devices. Also work is in progress to explore efficiencies in surgical processing by task sharing. Proper informed consent and safety remain paramount and great care has to be taken as programmes in Africa scale up. In continental China where the HIV epidemic is at a much earlier stage there may be a case for considering infant circumcision but great care will be needed to ensure that there is no harm.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Africa
  • Circumcision, Male / adverse effects
  • Circumcision, Male / methods*
  • Circumcision, Male / trends
  • Developing Countries*
  • Education, Medical, Continuing
  • General Surgery / education
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Manuals as Topic
  • Public Health Practice
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sexual Behavior
  • World Health Organization*