Durban - The KwaZulu-Natal health department on Wednesday dismissed claims that a group of South African students sent to study various medicine-related courses in India have been forced to have contraceptive implants.
Spokesman Desmond Motha said all the students who had been given the Implanon contraceptive, which is effective for about three years, had given their consent.
The students were given full bursaries funded by government, Rand Merchant Bank and the South African division of Indian pharmaceutical company Cipla.
A total of 30 students will leave on Thursday to study at Manipal University in Jaipur, India.
The Daily news on Tuesday quoted health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo as saying “We will be injecting them with Implanon so they don't fall pregnant”.
Dhlomo had been speaking at a farewell dinner at which premier Senzo Mchunu was present.
Motha said all the girls and their parents had been counselled on the use of Implanon.
“It is not conditional [for them to receive the bursaries] that they take Implanon. They are leaving tomorrow [Thursday] from the airport, why don't you ask them?”
He said if the students became pregnant they would be required to return home as there were no facilities for maternity treatment. They could not postpone their studies as the bursaries were for a fixed period.
Dhlomo's announcement follows revelations earlier this year that four students sent to Cuba to train as doctors fell pregnant and were forced to return home.
The Daily News reported that 702 South Africans were currently studying medicine in Cuba.