More than 500 000 men and boys in KwaZulu-Natal have been circumcised without a single death or amputation since 2010, Provincial Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo reported.
MEC Dhlomo said the provincial Department of Health now treated Medical Male Circumcision (MMC) as one of its programmes in the fight against the spread of HIV.
He was speaking at an event, in Kokstad, on Wednesday, to welcome 295 men and boys back to their communities after they had undergone initiation through circumcision.
He said the department had established the MMC Centre for Excellence based at Northdale Hospital, in Pietermaritzburg, where scores of MMC practitioners were trained, ensuring that the number of aerse incidents is kept to a minimum.
MEC Dhlomo expressed his gratitude to His Majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini, who in 2009, called for the revival of the circumcision tradition as an effort to decrease the spread of HIV in the province.
The programme was launched in April 2010 with good responses recorded in the whole province, with the exception of Sisonke District that incorporated the Greater Kokstad Sub District, where it was shown that only 417 circumcisions were done by the end of September 2010.
These prompted the department to send its district manager and the provincial MMC Programme Coordinator to visit the area to investigate the reasons for the poor uptake and to also market and popularise the programme in this community.
“We will never tire to thank Ongangezwe Lakhe for His wisdom and leadership in calling for the revival of the UKUSOKA [male circumcision] tradition as a means to fight the spread of HIV and Aids that has ravaged his people.
“Today the whole world is noticing and appreciating the change in health status of the South Africans. The HIV that was once so deadly and seemed untouchable is now like a boxer who is on the ropes and facing defeat,” MEC Dhlomo said.
He also praised the co-operation with the traditional leadership, noting that in the Harry Gwala District alone, where greater Kokstad falls, close to 23 000 circumcisions had been conducted since 201011. These exclude the 295 initiates welcomed back on Wednesday.
“The department’s interaction with the Indlondlo [Head of the Region’s Initiation Schools] has helped foster an understanding of a number of issues especially the fact that circumcision within the Kokstad community was preferably done in the traditional way.
“Through this association, the department also learnt of the values and impact of the tradition on the men going to camps especially the fact that initiation is considered in a broader sense aiming at a holistic way of grooming male leaders of tomorrow.”
Source : SAnews.gov.za