Health facilities in Mpumalanga’s Gert Sibande district are battling to cope with an increase in requests for medical male circumcision (MMC), according to health workers and patients.
Debbie Chauke, a nurse at Ermelo Hospital confirmed that they are able to only conduct five procedures every day as there is no dedicated doctor, forcing them to place men on a growing waiting list.
Chauke added that they see a definite spike during the winter months in the number of men requiring the procedure. “All we can do is put them on the waiting list,” she said.
Ermelo Hospital’s MMC Unit has three dedicated nurses and receives support from non-governmental organisation Right to Care who sends doctors to the hospital once a month when they circumcise about 20 men.
Nqobile Shabalala of the Treatment Action Campaign said they have been mobilizing and educating men in the community, but that it was problematic as many of the men were turned away once they made the decision to go to the hospital.
“The province might not be able to reach the 500 000 men that have been targeted for circumcision,” said Shabalala.
In Amsterdam, which falls under the Mkhondo sub-district, non-governmental organisation Brothers for Life has been conducting door-to-door campaigns educating community members about the importance of HIV prevention and the benefits of MMC.
“Medical male circumcision is a great initiative of preventing new infections but the department of health needs to hire more staff dedicated to the programme in all the hospitals,” said Linda Mavuso, the TAC’s Mpumalanga co-ordinator.