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WFH Humanitarian Aid program makes safe circumcision possible in Kenya

In Kenya, circumcision is a deeply ingrained part of the country’s cultural fabric. A boy who isn’t able to get the procedure can often feel ostracised by his peers—and even by his own family. The WFH Humanitarian Aid Program is literally changing the lives of boys with bleeding disorders in Kenya by providing much needed factor to hospitals so that they can be safely circumcised.

Circumcision is a common procedure in Africa. In Kenya—which has the largest population that undergoes the procedure in the continent—it is taken very seriously from a cultural standpoint, and has considerable societal implications. As explained by urologist David Kiamani, MD, from Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi: “[Circumcision] is considered a rite of passage to move from a boy to a man… you need it to enjoy the benefits of being an elder, to allow you to marry…” Alice Waswa, the mother of a 10-year-old boy with hemophilia, affirms the ramifications of not getting the procedure: she has to hide the fact that her son is uncircumcised to avoid him being ostracised by his friends. Her son would normally have been circumcised at his age, and that nearly all of his peers have had the procedure.

The WFH Humanitarian Aid Program is helping to change this situation in Kenya. The Program is very active in the country: in 2019, the Program facilitated the donation of nearly 6 million IUs of factor. Since 2015, the WFH Humanitarian Aid Program has provided nearly 17 million IUs of factor to Kenya. This factor has allowed hospitals in the country to treat acute bleeds and impact the lives of children with hemophilia. Now, the Program is also making safe circumcision possible.

Kibet Shikuku, MD, Chairman of the Kenya Hemophilia Association
The WFH HA program has revolutionized the way we manage and care for patients with bleeding disorders.

Kibet Shikuku, MD, Chairman of the Kenya Hemophilia Association, says that the WFH Humanitarian Aid Program has allowed his organization to implement a Safe Circumcision Program. In the past, boys who had hemophilia would avoid going to a hospital to request circumcision because they knew that they would be refused because of their condition. Instead, they would go to a family member or friend to have the procedure done in a non-medical environment. One of the reasons they would bear this risk is because the inability to be circumcised is sometimes seen as the result of bewitching—and this misconception sometimes tore families apart. Sadly, the boys would only go to a hospital when bleeding complications or infections forced them to seek treatment.

“The Humanitarian Aid Program aims mainly to treat people who bleed,” explains Assad E. Haffar, MD, WFH Medical & Humanitarian Aid Director. “At the same time, there are a lot of minor surgeries that are being done here in the country, particularly for circumcision, so that’s why we try to cover these surgeries, to make sure that people do not suffer.” Shikuku explains the impact the Program has had in the country in more dramatic terms: “The WFH HA program has revolutionized the way we manage and care for patients with bleeding disorders.”

Thanks to WFH Humanitarian Aid Program donated factor and the Safe Circumcision Program, boys in Kenya to be circumcised in a safe, welcoming environment, and families are being brought back together.

To read more about the WFH Humanitarian Aid Program, click here.

About the WFH Humanitarian Aid Program

The WFH Humanitarian Aid Program improves the lack of access to care and treatment by providing much-needed support for people with inherited bleeding disorders in developing countries. By providing patients with a more predictable and sustainable flow of humanitarian aid donations, the WFH Humanitarian Aid Program makes it possible for patients to receive consistent and reliable access to treatment and care. None of this would be possible without the generous support of Sanofi Genzyme and Sobi, our Founding Visionary Contributors; Bayer, our Visionary Contributor; Grifols and Roche, our Leadership Contributors; and our Contributor, CSL Behring.  To learn more about the WFH Humanitarian Aid Program, visit www.treatmentforall.org.

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