Govt probes Howard Hospital

Rumbidzai Muparutsa
The Ministry of Health and Child Care has launched an investigation into circumstances surrounding the circumcision of a 13-year-old boy from Majome Primary School in Mazowe, after his parents withheld consent for the procedure.

Lawyers representing the minor’s parents, Mutamangira & Associates, have slapped Mr Aaron Museka, the hospital’s chief medical officer, with a $50 000 lawsuit.

Secretary for Health Dr Gerald Gwinji said: “The ministry, through its provincial directorate, is investigating to determine the validity of concerns that there was a child that could have been circumcised without due consent.

“Once the province has completed its due processes it will furnish my office with the findings. What I can confirm though for now is that the said child did not have any adverse events and healed well.”

It is alleged that in January this year, medical personnel visited Majome Primary School and handed out consent forms to learners, including the 13-year-old boy, which were supposed to be signed by their parents or guardians for circumcisions to be undertaken.

The minor’s parents say they never signed the forms, but their son was nevertheless circumcised on January 29 and was ferried home by ambulance as he could not walk.

Lawyers representing the parents say Section 76 of the Children’s Act stipulates that where consent to conduct a medical procedure is withheld, the operation can only proceed after applying and getting approval from a magistrate.

As such, they say the circumcision pointed to “improper conduct” that was “criminal in nature”.

The medical personnel claimed they were working under a programme run by Population Services International.

PSI voluntary medical male circumcision programme director Dr Brian Abel Maponga said: “VMMC should be as accessible as possible and cost should not be a barrier to access of these services.

“Despite the aforesaid, the institutions still incur a cost to discharge these duties such as transport to and from the health facilities; the operation procedure and reviews and medicines for wound care.

“To ensure quality services are maintained, PSI’s role is to reimburse the hospitals for the expenses incurred, guided by the Ministry of Health and Child Care policies.”

PSI said it was not responsible for monitoring service delivery.

“PSI is accountable for the support it provides to the different levels of the programme. Further, different providers are guided by the minimum standards in discharging their roles at the patient-client level and as such are accountable for the services they provide to the clients,” explained Dr Maponga.

The NGO said it would be guided by the outcome of Government’s investigation into the matter.

To date, more than 1,2 million men from the targeted 1,3 million have been circumcised countrywide.

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