As deaths mount, a call for medical circumcision to replace the traditional

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Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital head of urology Dr Mbuyiselo Madiba has called for traditional circumcision in the Eastern Cape to be banned for a year and replaced with medical circumcision. Times Select reports that this comes as the summer initiation deaths in the province have already surpassed the winter figures. So far, with just three weeks into the summer circumcision season, 18 boys have died, compared with the 17 deaths during the winter season.

Madiba also called on traditional leaders to accept responsibility for the deaths and hospitalisation of initiates due to botched circumcision. “Botched circumcisions don’t need just an ordinary medical practitioner but need a specialist in urology … As things stand, none of the medical practitioners working with other stakeholders are urologists,” Madiba is quoted in the report as saying. He said urologists needed to be part of the team of specialists who back up traditional surgeons and nurses.

Madiba said: “Traditional leaders can no longer take these deaths lightly when our children just perish like flies. Traditional leaders must tell us why they continue allowing our boys to be killed by iingcibi (traditional surgeons) just in front of their eyes and do nothing.” Madiba further charged that traditional leaders should also face the law enforcement agencies when boys die due to a botched circumcision in their traditional areas.

The report says in the 2018 summer season, 35,949 boys underwent the rite of passage, with 23 deaths being reported.

Alarmed by the deaths of 18 initiates this summer season, Eastern Cape Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba has directed all qualified medical officials stationed in Bhisho to go to initiation schools to assess the conditions of initiates, reports The Times. Provincial health spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said dehydration had been identified as the main cause of death in most cases – meaning that the initiates are being deprived of water.

“This belief – that if initiates are not given water their wounds will heal faster – could not be further from the truth. Some would-be initiates even stop taking water before they undergo the rite because of being misinformed that this would help them heal faster. They die from dehydration just days after being circumcised,” he said.

Kupelo said the department would donate water to initiation schools. He said the visits by the health professionals to circumcision schools will help prevent further unnecessary deaths because those who might be in need of medical help will immediately get it.

Times Select report

The Times report

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