KZN defends circumcision clamp

2010-07-09 22:20

Durban - The KwaZulu-Natal health department on Friday insisted that the Tara KLamp method used to circumcise males was safe.

This was after Aids activists and doctors called for the use of the Malaysian-made circumcision device to be put on hold until safety concerns had been addressed.

"We don’t have any evidence that suggest that the Tara KLamp method is more unsafe that the forceps method," said Chris Maxon, spokesperson for KwaZulu-Natal health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo.

The KwaZulu-Natal health department had set up circumcision camps around the province in a drive to minimise sexually transmitted infections and the risk of contracting HIV/Aids.

Maxon said the department had used the Tara KLamp method on about 600 people.

“Only four people complained of swelling, all those cases were managed in hospital. None of them indicated to deaths or amputation of the penis,” said Maxon.

In a joint statement on Thursday, the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society said they encouraged voluntary male circumcision.

It was a way of reducing the risk of heterosexual men contracting HIV and the Human Papilloma Virus.

However, a controlled trial of the Tara KLamp at Orange Farm in Gauteng had found a very high rate of "adverse events".

Men circumcised using the clamp also reported worse pain than men circumcised using the forceps-guided method of medical circumcision.

Opposition from TAC

That trial had been stopped early due to the unacceptably high rate of adverse events, and the researchers had "strongly" cautioned against using the clamp on young adults.

The clamp was attached to the foreskin, and after about a week the device, along with the foreskin, usually fell off.

But in some cases the device did not fall off, forcing the patient to have it removed surgically.

"Safety must be proven before any new medical intervention is implemented," the TAC and the doctors said.

"Currently, the balance of evidence shows that the (clamp) is unsafe for use on adolescents and adults," they said.

"The (clamp) must be withdrawn from sale and distribution for adolescent and adult circumcision throughout sub-Saharan Africa until the device's safety concerns are addressed."

Maxon said during the winter period the department had circumcised close to 3 400 men with the number expected to rise as more were being circumcised in Nquthu on Friday.

“At the moment we are not using the Tara KLamp method. It is out of stock and (we are) waiting for more stock to arrive,” said Maxon.

When the circumcision camps were set up the government said it had a target of circumcising about 4 000 males before schools reopen.