Garin warns boys’ rite of passage can be deadly
MANILA, Philippines–Parents, don’t let your boy’s rite of passage to manhood turn deadly.
The Department of Health (DOH) on Sunday strongly advised parents against having their young sons undergo circumcision at the hands of unskilled persons using the “pukpok” method, the traditional way that uses crude tools.
In an interview with reporters, Health Secretary Janette Garin said the old method, which sometimes ended with a dip in a river, posed a high risk of infection, particularly tetanus.
Tetanus is a serious and possibly deadly condition that causes seizures and severe muscle spasms in the neck, abdomen and limbs that could fracture the spine. It is caused by the Clostridium tetani, bacteria that thrive in contaminated soil, animal feces and other areas.
Garin said parents should take their sons to a medical professional with the right equipment. She said they could go to health centers or hospitals.
“When circumcision is done by a doctor, you are sure the tools are sterilized. What is important is that it is done by medical personnel,” Garin said. “Stay away from the pukpok method because you are inviting a tetanus infection.”
The traditional way of circumcision, which is usually done during the summer, is carried out without anesthesia. Young boys are made to chew guava leaves while the circumciser hacks off the foreskin with a sharpened tool.
The guava leaves are then placed on the wound supposedly to fight infection. In most cases, the boys are instructed to bathe in a nearby river after the procedure.
Garin, however, advised against bathing in a river to keep the wound clean.
“Since it is an open wound, make sure you bathe with clean water,” she said.
If bleeding continues, one should consult a doctor immediately. “Finish the course of antibiotics for seven days,” she said.–Jocelyn R. Uy
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