Religious and traditional circumcision surgeons are likely to see another spike in their businesses following a report released yesterday that male circumcision not only protects against HIV, but also helps prevent two other sexually transmitted infections.
Traditional circumcision surgeons witnessed a rise in demand for their services two years ago when the World Health Organization endorsed a study that found that male circumcision significantly reduced the risk of contracting HIV in heterosexual males. Now the New England Journal of Medicine reports that the procedure can also reduce contraction and transmission of herpes and the human papillomavirus (HPV), which cause genital warts and cervical cancer.
There is concern that with the increasing demand for circumcisions, the Government of Uganda should closely monitor the practice of traditional surgeons around the country in order to stop the spread of disease.
Sulait Katende, a traditional surgeon at Kasangati Mosque just outside Kampala, says he inherited his practice from his father. He says he has never undergone formal training and everything he knows, he learned from his father.
Katende boasts that although he has never participated in a surgical class, none of his clients has ever fallen sick or died from an infection obtained during circumcision.
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Sulait Katende, who circumcises an average of eight people every day, says he has some knowledge of medical procedures. He gives each of his patients painkillers to relieve the agony after the procedure and even refers them to doctors in event of any complications.
Rajabu Kalungi of Gayaza Manyangwa swears by the skill of the traditional surgeons. He says that on March 20th he was circumcised at Kasangati Mosque and has fully recovered.
Musa Kanyerezi, a circumcision surgeon at Kalitunsi Mosque in Ndeeba, says that although he has heard of a rise in demands for circumcision, most of his clients approach him for religious reasons. He too has not had any problems with any of his patients and he says closer government scrutiny of their work is unnecessary.
However Hajji Sinan Bulambago, the Kibuli Hospital Administrator, says some form of oversight is important because of the demand for circumcision procedures. He discloses that at Kibuli Hospital the number of people reporting for circumcision has doubled in the past two years.
Bulambago says circumcision is encouraged in children because they recover fast and the procedure is less painful for them.
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Kibuli Hospital has increased its circumcision clinic hours from once a week to three times a week because of the demand.