With 327 bush initiation schools set to open this week no initiate will be allowed to participate without producing a certificate of medical history. This is a measure to curb the spread of diseases such as HIV.
The Department of Health offers free medical circumcision at its hospitals and clinics, but many parents still prefer the traditional route for their boys to become men.
Neil Shikwambana, a spokesperson for Limpopo’s Department of Health, said health practitioners will visit initiation schools across the province to monitor the wellbeing of the initiates. “We offer free medical circumcision from the age of 15 and above at our hospitals but we will also work with those who will be going to initiation schools as we have to ensure that they come back free of any diseases,” he said.
Some of the health benefits of medical circumcision include the decreased risk of urinary tract infections and sexual transmitted infections, such as HIV, in men. There is also some evidence of a reduced risk of cervical cancer in their female sexual partners.
MEC of Cooperative Governance, Human Settlement and Traditional Affairs, Rodgers Makamu, said no causalities were recorded among the 50,000 boys initiated last year.
Kgoshi Malesela Dikgale, who chairs Limpopo’s House of Traditional Leaders, said they had received more than 400 applications for bush initiation schools but had turned down those that did not meet the necessary requirements and only 327were approved.
“Though we want our boys to be men we have to take into consideration that we live in a country full of diseases, which is why we have to play a part to protect their health. The best way to do that is to require a medical history of each boy who goes to the mountain. We will not admit anyone under the age of 12 and those who do not follow the rules will face consequences,” Dikgale warned. – Health-e News