Voluntary neo-natal circumcision planned
by Lindani Dube
The Ministry of Health and Child Welfare says plans to introduce neo-natal circumcision on voluntary basis are at consultation and research stage. In an interview recently, the director of Aids and Tuberculosis Unit in the ministry, Dr Owen Mugurungi said the population's approval on the matter was important before its inception.
"Foremost, neonatal circumcision has proven to be more sustainable than the catch up phase as it is possible to circumcise about 200 000 infants a year compared to reaching out to the adult population," said Dr Mugurungi.
He said the benefits of neonatal circumcision out weigh the risks as it is a simpler procedure.
"There is virtually little to no bleeding on the infants and no need for pain killers or anaesthetics. The healing process is quicker than the adult's six week period," said Dr Mugurungi.
Dr Mugurungi said circumcising neonates makes the condom contraception campaign easier later on as circumcision would have already been done.
"Like anything new we have embarked on accessibility and feasibility studies and also to research the best suited to perform the task, between a general nurse, midwife, doctor or pediatrician," said Dr Mugurungi.
He said if the programme was widely accepted training of ideal candidates would begin.
"The exercise will be voluntary and not imposed, as the final decision should still be left to parents to make. That is in the context of their religious, ethical and cultural beliefs. We are still consulting to get perspective of the population and everyone," said Dr Mugurungi.
He said the ministry will endevour to reach its target of having circumcised 1,2million males by the year 2015.
"We are hopeful that we will get close to the figure as more people are aware of the benefits of circumcision apart from HIV reduction. Benefits extend to hygiene, prevention of genital ulcers and the reduction of cervical cancer in women," he said.