Policy on male circumcision to be finalised by June

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pretoria - The South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) is to finalise a Male Circumcision Policy to articulate the role of circumcision in the context of men's sexual health.

The policy will be submitted to Parliament by June for debate and possible approval.

"The other element of the policy is to see how the availability of circumcision should be outlined, what the possible choices available are and how it relates to tradition," said the Director General in the Department of Health Thami Mseleku.

Briefing the media following a SANAC meeting in Pretoria on Tuesday Mr Mseleku said the policy will also address issues around the registration of traditional practitioners as well as issues of counseling of men undergoing circumcision.

Mr Mseleku emphasised that circumcision should be voluntary and that boys who undergo circumcision as part of initiation practice should get counseling on HIV prevention.

"People often think that circumcision prevents HIV, which is a mis-representation, if we don't assist, it will exacerbate the situation," Mr Mseleku said.

Deputy President Baleka Mbete also emphasised the importance of communication and urged people to be careful and responsible when communicating issues around circumcision.

"The tone of communication on the matter as well as the cultural element has to be taken into account.

"There is a need to engage collectively and see circumcision as part of the package, there's lot of challenges, which we still need to get to the top of and SANAC is gearing itself to function even better," Ms Baleka said.

SANAC Deputy Chairperson Mark Heywood said there is more to be done by civil society instead of looking at government's shortcomings.

"I'm not satisfied with the civil society, it's an accountability of them and government to deal with the issue," Mr Heywood said.

Mr Heywood added that SANAC was making progress but there's a long way to go.