Dhlomo: Tara Klamp criticism based on wrong info

2012-08-30 00:00

MEC for Health Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo criticised the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) yesterday over its complaints about the use Tara Klamp (TK) device for circumcision.

Dhlomo said its criticism was unfounded, based on incorrect information and born out of the organisation’s internal strife.

Dhlomo said: “The people who can talk more about the TK or any device of medical male circumcision [MMC] are the clients themselves and not TAC.”

The TAC announced last week that it had lodged a complaint with the Office of the Public Protector to investigate the use of the TK and the procurement process of the device.

It said it had received numerous reports that the device had led to complications like prolonged pain, swelling, penis disfigurement and erectile dysfunction.

Dhlomo disputed the allegations by the TAC saying its criticism was based on a study conducted in the Orange Farm area, which had not employed the skills used in KwaZulu-Natal.

He said the provincial results were in fact the opposite. “We have circumcised a total number of 175 927 men, 35 989 of whom were circumcised using the TK with no adverse effects.

“The TAC should not compare TK use in KwaZulu-Natal with that of Orange Farm [where there were complications] and should refrain from misleading the public that it is dangerous,” he said.

He added that in KZN there had been no reports of deaths, penile amputations, permanent erectile dysfunction or permanent penile disfigurement from the TK or any circumcision procedure.

“The TAC is far from knowing the skills possessed by the health professional on any medical procedure, including the MMC procedure.”

Sanele Nkabini, an MMC technician, said the TK was used in the province because it was cost-effective, saved time and allowed for mass circumcisions.

Dhlomo said TAC internal politics were behind the criticisms.

“The TAC we have worked with in KZN has had pressure to say there are severe adverse effects in the MMC using the TK. They are well aware they have not found any, but the national TAC is pressing them to say they had observed mistakes.”

He declined to comment on allegations of corruption in the procurement process, saying that the public protector would investigate.

He said he found it frustrating that the TAC only offered criticism and had never praised the department,despite the strides it had made in the fight against HIV and Aids.

TAC provincial chairperson Patrick Mdletshe said there were no internal ructions in the TAC and it was against the TK because it was a dangerous device.

“It has specifically not been approved by the World Health Organisation because it failed in the only clinical trial conducted to test its safety,” Mdletshe said.

“Even in Malaysia where this device is from, it is used to circumcise only boys who have not reached puberty.”

• thamsanqam@witness.co.za

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