Make circumcision safe, says minister

Monday, July 25, 2011

Pretoria - Traditional leaders and health professionals have been called on to work better together to ensure safer circumcision of young men in Gauteng.

Health and Social Development MEC, Ntombi Mekgwe, made the call during a ceremony to mark the return of young men from initiation school at the weekend.

Mekgwe commended the fact that none of the initiates had experience medical complications, thanks to screenings conducted by health professional before traditional initiation.

The 30 boys were the first group to undergo traditional circumcision in eTwatwa under the guidance and partnership of the Department of Health and traditional leaders.

BaPedi traditional leaders in the province approached the department to assist with the surgeries.

Mekgwe emphasized the importance of circumcision in an effort to curb the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, especially HIV. She urged the boys to uphold the values they learned during their month-long stay at initiation school, including respect for themselves and for women.

"Your behaviour within your families and your community will set you apart from 'boys'. How you relate to and treat women will indeed confirm that you are worthy of being called men.

"Respect for all age groups is what you have been taught during your initiation. This also includes continuing to respect your elders, whether they are your biological parents or not," Mekgwe told initiates.

More than 14 500 male medical circumcisions were performed in the province last year. The department aims to provide the service to about 100 000 by the end of March 2012.

An optimistic Mekgwe noted that this will be achieved by making the service available at all hospitals and community health centres.

The event in Etwatwa was organised by traditional leader R M Mampuru of the BaPedi nation and attended by South Sotho traditional leaders, civic leaders and local councillors.

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