Early Infant Male Circumcision in Cameroon and Senegal: Demand, Service Provision, and Cultural Context

Glob Health Sci Pract. 2016 Jul 13;4 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S18-28. doi: 10.9745/GHSP-D-15-00185. Print 2016 Jul.


Background: Male circumcision is almost universal in North and West Africa, and practiced for various reasons. Yet there is little documentation on service delivery, clinical procedures, policies, and programmatic strategies. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) commissioned country program reviews in 2014 to shed light on the delivery of male circumcision services for infants in Cameroon and Senegal.

Methods: We conducted a policy desk review, key informant interviews, and focus group discussions at health centers and in communities. Between December 2014 and January 2015, we conducted 21 key informant interviews (13 with regional and district officers, 5 with national officers, and 3 with UNICEF officials) and 36 focus group discussions (6 with men, 6 with women, 12 with adolescent boys, and 12 with service providers). Some of the men and women were parents of the adolescents who participated in the focus group discussions. In the French-speaking areas, the focus group discussions were conducted in French through an accredited translator, audio recorded, and transcribed into English.

Results: All of the facilities we visited in Cameroon and Senegal offer medical male circumcision, with 10 out of 12 performing early infant male circumcision (EIMC) routinely. Neither country has policies, guidelines, or strategies for EIMC. The procedure is done mainly by untrained service providers, with some providers using modern circumcision devices. There are no key messages on EIMC for families; the increasing demand for EIMC is led by the community.

Conclusion: Despite the absence of national policies and strategies, EIMC is routinely offered at all levels of the health care system in Cameroon and Senegal, mainly by untrained service providers. Improving circumcision services will require guidelines for EIMC and improvements in training, equipment, supply chains, recordkeeping, and demand creation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cameroon
  • Circumcision, Male / psychology*
  • Circumcision, Male / statistics & numerical data*
  • Culture*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Senegal
  • Young Adult