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Government to promote infant male circumcision

The 2012 HSRC survey found that almost half of men 15 years and older surveyed had been circumcised. He majority of young males aged 15–24 years had been circumcised in medical facilities, while older males had been circumcised in traditional settings. (File Photo)
Written by Ayanda Mkhwanazi

With government still far off its goal to medically circumcise 4.3 million by 2016, Department of Health officials say they plan to begin promoting medical male circumcision (MMC) among infants and young boys.

Since the 2010 launch of the HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) campaign, almost 1.4 million men have been circumcised. This means that with only two years to go until the 2016 deadline, government has only reached about a third of its target.

Since the 2010 launch of the HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) campaign, almost 1.4 million men have been medically circumcised.

Since the 2010 launch of the HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) campaign, almost 1.4 million men have been circumcised. This means that with only two years to go until the 2016 deadline, government has only reached about a third of its target.

“We need to improve our performance in the next two years,” said Dayanund Loykissoonlal, MMC programme manager at the National Health Department. “We did nearly half a million (circumcisions) in 2014 so we are moving but not fast enough.”

He added that the department planned to explore approaches to encourage parents to medically circumcise boys after birth and as young children.

The department also continues to work with the traditional sector to improve safety and links with the HCT campaign, Loykissoonlal added.

Soweto general practitioner Dr Don Pupuma said he always encourages patients to circumcise their little ones as early as possible because the after effects are less severe.

“It is distinctly painless when you are a youngster (because) you have less erections,” said Pupuma speaking to journalists and medical professionals in Johannesburg yesterday.

Julian Pretorius, 24, recently underwent the procedure and says he would have done it at an earlier age had he known.

“I went last week to get circumcised and am very happy I did it,” Pretorius told Health-e News. “I am not ashamed – I am a young, sexually active male and I am encouraging even my older brother to go and do it.”

Large clinical trials in South Africa, Kenya and Uganda found that medical male circumcision could reduce a man’s risk of contracting HIV by up to 60 percent.

With about six million people living with HIV in South Africa, CEO of the specialist HIV care and training company Careworks Harry Lake said the country must prioritise resources for medical male circumcision.

“We have got to put as many resources as possible into MMC so that we can reverse these numbers,” Lake said.

About the author

Ayanda Mkhwanazi

Ayanda Mkhwanazi is a senior journalist with Health-e News.

3 Comments

  • Regardless of the profit motive, South African heath services should respect the LAW and the fundamental HUMAN RIGHTS of minors by not forcing excisional surgery on their sexual organs. Infants are unable to resist or consent and are at zero risk of sexually transmitted infections.

    “Circumcision of male children under 16 years is prohibited [under the 2010 South African Children’s Act], unless it is done for medical or religious reasons. Anyone who contravenes the prohibition is guilty of an offence and can be fined or imprisoned for 10 years or be given both a fine and a term of imprisonment. (s305(1)(a) and (6)).”

  • BUT IT IS ILLEGAL! FOR GODS SAKE, WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE!!!

    See below, point 8:

    Children’s Act, 2005 (Act No. 38 of 2005)…Chapter 2 : General Principles
    12. Social, cultural and religious practices

    1) Every child has the right not to be subjected to social, cultural and religious practices which are detrimental to his or her well-being.

    2) A child-

    a) below the minimum age set by law for a valid marriage may not be given out in marriage or engagement; and

    b) above that minimum age may not be given out in marriage or engagement without his or her consent.

    3) Genital mutilation or the circumcision of female children is prohibited.

    4) Virginity testing of children under the age of 16 is prohibited.

    5) Virginity testing of children older than 16 may only be performed-

    a) if the child has given consent to the testing in the prescribed manner;

    b) after proper counselling of the child; and

    c) in the manner prescribed.

    6) The results of a virginity test may not be disclosed without the consent of the child;

    7) The body of a child who has undergone virginity testing may not be marked.

    8) Circumcision of male children under the age of 16 is prohibited, except when-

    a) circumcision is performed for religious purposes in accordance with the practices of the religion concerned and in the manner prescribed; or

    b) circumcision is performed for medical reasons on the recommendation of a medical practitioner.

    9) Circumcision of male children older than 16 may only be performed-

    a) if the child has given consent to the circumcision in the prescribed manner;

    b) after proper counselling of the child; and

    c) in the manner prescribed.

    10) Taking into consideration the child’s age, maturity and stage of development, every male child has the right to refuse circumcision.

  • I agree with the above comments. It violates the rights of the child. There should be a revision of this article in light of the childrens act.

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