Updated 18 September 2013

GP’s to perform circumcisions

General Practitioners in the private sector will now be equipped and empowered with the surgical skill to perform medical male circumcisions.


General Practitioners (GP’s) in the private sector will now be equipped and empowered with the surgical skill to perform medical male circumcisions (MMC) thanks to a partnership between Western Cape Department of Health and Metropolitan Health Risk Management, who have teamed up with a surgical team overseen by a leading Cape Town Urologist, Dr Greg Webb, at Mediclinic Constantiaberg hospital.

Preventing HIV infection

The outcomes of several studies including three large-scale randomised controlled trials in South Africa, Uganda and Kenya, resulted in the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNAIDS advocating MMC as an important strategy in the prevention of HIV infection in areas where HIV is transmitted primarily via heterosexual sexual intercourse. As a response to this, South Africa’s Department of Health adopted MMC’s as a HIV prevention strategy.

Research findings suggest that the effectiveness of MMC’s reduces the risk of female-to-male transmission when the foreskin is completely removed.  The relative risk of HIV infection is up to 60% lower in circumcised men.

Male circumcision has also been associated with a number of other health benefits. Although there are risks to male circumcision, serious complications are rare. Accordingly, male circumcision, together with other prevention interventions, could play an important role in HIV prevention.

The WHO advocates that MMC’s will have the best results when implemented on a large scale in areas where HIV prevalence is high and male circumcision rates are low.  The successful implementation of the MMC strategy requires a string network of partnerships between government, NGOs and the private sector.

"As the private sector, we have an important role to play in supporting HIV prevention, by empowering more healthcare providers to achieve the Department of Health national objectives," said Siraaj Adams, Executive Manager for the HIV YourLife Programme.

Hands-on training provided

The MCC training will be provided by an expert surgeon who has extensive practical skills with the procedure.  Didactic training will be provided together with a comprehensive manual on the procedure outline. In addition, complete hands-on training will be provided to ensure all clinicians are equipped with the clinical skills of service provision.

The first pilot training session took place on 7 September at the Mediclinic Constantiaberg hospital, with more training sessions for GP’s planned this year.


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Dr Sindisiwe van Zyl qualified at the University of Pretoria in 2005. She is a patients' rights activist and loves using social media to teach about HIV. She is in private practice in Johannesburg.

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