How does one circumcise 2.5 million men within 5 years to help prevent the AIDS epidemic from spreading in Africa? Call Israeli doctors and nurses.
The Zulu nation's King Goodwill Zwelithini decided to introduce the tradition of circumcision among his tribesmen last February in an effort to stop AIDS from spreading further following a World Health Organization recommendation. According to the WHO, circumcised men have a lower chance of contracting the disease than men who have not undergone circumcision.
Africa, however does not have the knowledge or skills to perform modern circumcision for such a large amount of people. The tribe therefore turned to Israel, whose doctors are considered worldwide experts in the field adult male circumcision. Some 100,000 adult males have undergone circumcision in Israel.
"Their main problem was expertise, and that's where we came into the picture," Dr. Yinon Shenkar, one of the Israeli delegation's members said.
The delegation, which consisted of two doctors, two nurses and a public health expert, arrived in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal two weeks ago and started training local medical teams on how to perform the procedures without compromising health and hygiene.
The mission is scheduled to complete its first visit in the coming days and return to Israel. Other Israeli delegations are expected to travel to South Africa in the coming months to continue the training.
The training included circumcision simulations on artificial organs and instructions on creating clinics which can perform 60 surgeries per day with only four beds. The Israeli medical staff also oversaw real procedures performed by the local staff.
"It's certainly an Israeli innovation for AIDS-stricken Africa," said Dr. Eitan Gross, the project's medical director and surgeon at the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem. "We are the only country with experience in mass male circumcision procedures and I believe we have a lot to contribute."