R700m needed for circumcisions

2010-03-17 16:03

Durban - The KwaZulu-Natal department of health will need R700m to roll out its male circumcision programme to help combat HIV infections.

The department had already started conducting circumcisions in state hospitals on a small scale and it had asked the US President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar) to provide R700m towards the programme, said spokesperson Chris Maxon.

"We have started conducting circumcisions at state hospitals but we will need R700m to do it on a bigger scale. That is the reason why we have approached Pepfar," he said.

In the 2009 fiscal year, the Pepfar programme in South Africa aimed to prevent 12 million new infections and care for 12 million HIV infected people by 2012.

Will also use grant money

Maxon said the department was optimistic that it would get the R700m it had requested.

"The prospects of getting the funding are huge because this is a very important programme which can help the country to reduce HIV infections," he said.

Maxon said the department of health would also use part of the R1.9bn conditional grant for HIV programmes it received from government to conduct circumcisions.

The KwaZulu-Natal government recently mobilised traditional leaders in the province to rally behind King Goodwill Zwelithini's call for young men to undergo medical circumcision to help prevent new infections.

Less chance of infection

Strong evidence from clinical trials in Orange Farm in Gauteng, Kenya, and Uganda had demonstrated that circumcised males had close to 60% less chance of acquiring HIV during sexual intercourse than uncircumcised men.

This means that medical male circumcision is partially protective.

The national government had also thrown its weight behind the circumcision programme.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe recently said he welcomed efforts by the KwaZulu-Natal government to roll out male circumcisions.