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Circumcision is reintroduced among Zulu warriors to help prevent AIDS spread

posted 5 Jan 2011, 05:59 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 5 Jan 2011, 06:01 ]

The Zulu nation's King Goodwill Zwelithini has reintroduced the tradition of circumcision among his tribesmen in an effort to stop AIDS from spreading further, following a World Health Organization recommendation.

Young Zulu boys are to be reintroduced to the tradition of circumcision in an attempt to prevent the spread of AIDS.

Circumcision was outlawed among Zulu warriors more than 180 years ago but the King of South Africa's Zulu nation, King Goodwill Zwelithini is reviving the procedure following recommendations from the World Health Organisation.

As part of the scheme, South African doctors and nurses have received training from a cohort of Israeli and Senegalese medical specialists, two countries where circumcision among young boys and adult men is a common medical procedure.

Dr Abdoulaye Bousso, a senior surgeon from Dakar, who has ample experience in male circumcision and Dr Inon Schenker, a Global health specialist from Jerusalem are leading the collaboration.

"Compelling evidence that was published in the scientific literature just a few years ago demonstrated dramatically that male circumcision can dramatically reduce HIV infection by 65 percent. In Africa very few know how to conduct adult male circumcision in high volume in high quality using World Health Organisation recommended technique, the Forceps Guided Technique," Dr Schenkar, leader of the Israeli delgation said.

Circumcision was once common among Zulu warriors but was stamped out by Zwelithini's great-grandfather, King Shaka, who decided that his warriors were taking too much leave to undergo the procedure. For the past 180 years no Zulu men have been circumcised.

"The King has made his voice very clear, he is changing history, he is now making all Zulu men all realise that to be a warrior, to be a Zulu means you need to be circumcised, this is meeting very very open ears of thousands and thousands of young men, it will be enough in terms of from our side to be contributing to this effort and we should feel very humbled to have been given the opportunity to do that," said Dr Schenkar.

Operation Abraham Collaborative (OAC) is a consortium of eight hospitals and health organisations committed to supporting initiatives in male circumcision for HIV prevention.

In the past few months nine Israelis and two Senegalese doctors have been deployed to Asiphile - a newly established facility of St. Mary's Hospital in Pinetown where doctors are being trained in circumcision techniques. S

More than 1,500 men were circumcised in the last four months by the group and many more are expected to follow in the coming year. Program staff say once all their doctors are fully trained they will be able to circumcise up to 1,000 young men a month.

A UNAIDS survey published last year estimates that 17.8 percent of 15-49 year olds in South Africa are living with HIV. The country has one of the highest transmission rates in the world.