Foreskin clamp a horror

The Tara Klamp, or TK, is a plastic device that is clamped over the foreskin of a man's penis for seven to 10 days until the foreskin dies and falls off.

THE Treatment Action Campaign said it has asked Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to investigate the procurement and ongoing use of the controversial Tara Klamp that is used to perform medical circumcisions on adolescent and adult men in KwaZulu-Natal.

The complaint was lodged early this month against KwaZulu-Natal MEC for health Sibongiseni Dhlomo and health department head Sibongile Zungu.

The Tara Klamp, or TK, is a plastic device that is clamped over the foreskin of a man's penis for seven to 10 days until the foreskin dies and falls off.

"The Tara Klamp is 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. It is also more expensive to use than the standard surgical circumcision methods," TAC deputy general secretary Lihle Dlamini said yesterday.

Since the roll-out of the male circumcision programme in the province, it is estimated that over 10000 men have been circumcised.

Dlamini said that they have been asking the KwaZulu-Natal government to stop the use of the TK since they first learnt about it in early 2010, but to no avail.

She said they had also asked the national Department of Health to intervene, but the efforts have been in vain.

So they say they have been left with no choice except to complain to the public protector.

"That the KwaZulu-Natal government continues to roll out the TK against the advice of the country's foremost medical practitioners and scientists is arrogant and irresponsible," Dlamini said.

"It raises our suspicion that all is not above board with the procurement of this device.

"In medicine it is a fundamental ethical principle not to implement an intervention unless it has been tested and shown to be safe."

TAC researcher Marcus Low said the only clinical trial of the TK with adults, which was carried out in Orange Farm, Gauteng, showed that it was very unsafe.

Low said there was a high rate of complications among the 37 men circumcised with the TK during the trial, compared to a complication rate of only 3% among men circumcised with the forceps guided method.

"Among the men who used the TK, 21% were more likely to report bleeding, compared to none of those who used the other method.

"The infection rate among the men who used the TK was 32%. The men suffering swelling was as high as 83%.

"Clearly, the use of the device is scientifically irrational and it is irresponsible of the department to use it. Over and above this, it costs R120 more," Low said.

Patrick Mdletshe, who lodged a complaint with the public protector, said they were prepared to go to the highest court in the land to stop the continued use of the device. However, Madonsela's spokeswoman Kgalalelo Masibi said her office had not yet received the complaint.

The TAC also said no tender had been put out for procuring the TK.

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