Chicago Tribune Examines Program That Teaches Swazi Doctors How To Perform Male Circumcisions
The Chicago Tribune on Tuesday examined a program, called Operation Abraham and organized by the Jerusalem AIDS Project, that sends Israeli surgeons to Swaziland to train doctors on how to perform male circumcisions on adults and infants in an effort to prevent the spread of HIV. The program -- underwritten by the U.S.-based Jewish organization Hadassah and other donors -- has sent three delegations of surgeons from Israel to Swaziland, the Tribune reports (Greenberg, Chicago Tribune, 7/8).
Health officials in Swaziland, which has fewer than 100 doctors and the world's highest HIV prevalence, have said that over the next five years they hope to offer male circumcision to 200,000 sexually active men at a rate of roughly 200 daily -- 20 times faster than the current pace. Some Swazi surgeons have shown that they can each perform 10 circumcision procedures -- which take about 25 minutes -- daily during the country's occasional series of "Circumcision Saturday" events. According to medical experts, it would take four doctors at each of five separate facilities in the country to perform 1,000 circumcisions weekly, if Swazi doctors can maintain that speed every weekday (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/22/07).
According to the Tribune, the Israeli surgeons have trained 10 local doctors on how to perform the procedure among adults and two others on the procedure among infants. Prudence Mkhatshwa, chief nurse in male circumcision at the Family Life Association of Swaziland, said that the training has helped to raise significantly the weekly rate of adult circumcision and that the public response is growing. "Before, people were scared, but now they see the benefits and they are more willing to do it," Mkhatshwa said, adding that billboards are promoting the procedure in addition to condom use and abstinence as a method to prevent HIV transmission.
Shlomo Mor-Yosef, director general of Hadassah, said, "This is part of Hadassah's mission: outreach to other places." Inon Schenker, director of Operation Abraham, said, "Israel is the only country with such experience in mass adult male circumcision, and it can respond to a very important humanitarian challenge" (Chicago Tribune, 7/8).