Snipping for better health outcomes
Provincial Health Departments will accelerate their male circumcision rollout as government commits up to R40-million towards the intervention.
Male circumcision has shown to reduce by 60 percent the risk of men becoming infected with HIV.
In his Medium Term Expenditure Framework, Minister of Finance Pravin Godhan committed an extra R100-million towards HIV prevention.
The R100-million allocation forms part of the R1,5-billion set aside for HIV programmes between 2010 and 2013. Gordhan said more than 300 000 people are put on ARV treatment each year and it would increase to 400 000 in the next three years.
Fidel Hadebe, spokesperson for the health department said the department had allocated R60-million to purchasing additional male condoms and the rest to male circumcision.
“It’s always good to see funds going towards effective prevention services and to specifically see medical male circumcision being put on the agenda and directly funded,” said Brian Honermann, a researcher with SECTION27.
He said it was unfortunate that the KwaZulu Natal Department of Health would likely continue to use its share to fast track its circumcision rollout using the controversial Tara KLamp “which has been shown to have a greater incidence of adverse effects compared to the standard forceps method”.
Honermann said besides being unsafe the Tara KLamp was more expensive than the forceps methods.
The Young Communist League of South Africa commended government for recognising the need to accelerate male circumcision. The group said it would work together with the national as well as provincial health departments to ensure circumcision is safe and to clamp down on illegal operators.
According to reports the Department of Health in KwaZulu Natal performed 10 229 circumcisions since the start of this year. The department announced it would be circumcising prisoners and priests from various churches to motivate male members of the church to follow the lead of the priests.
Dr Francois Venter, president of the HIV Clinicians Society of Southern Africa said they were impressed with the leadership shown by the Department of Health and wished that ‘all provinces would be as proactive’. He said it was delightful to see government putting funds in proven interventions such as circumcision.
Venter said the society was puzzled as to why the KwaZulu Natal Department of Health continued to use the Tara KLamp method ‘when the only data we have on it is that it has more side effects and is more expensive than the WHO approved method’.
‘KZN risks undermining an excellent programme with this device,’ he said.