Port Elizabeth - The influx of patients with circumcision-related injuries to Eastern Cape hospitals is a crisis, health MEC Sicelo Gqobana said on Friday.

“He described the situation as a crisis. Overall in the province there are 263 people who are being treated in hospitals for circumcision-related complications,” provincial health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said.

The MEC visited the Mthatha General and St Barnabas hospitals on Friday to assess initiates who required immediate medical care.

He found many of the boys suffered from dehydration, gangrene, and septic wounds. Some had lost their genitals.

“He is going to make a strong recommendation (to deal with the situation) to the provincial cabinet,” Kupelo said.

“He will also consult the chair of the house of traditional leaders and the MEC for local government.”

Kupelo said the doctors and staff at the hospitals told Gqobana

they had been “emotionally affected” by the extent of the injuries.

“The doctors and even the workers require counselling.”

He said the growing number of initiate patients was putting pressure on the hospitals, as the boys had to be given priority over other patients.

The health department concluded that the initiation season had been “hijacked by people motivated by greed”. - Sapa