Durban - Ten of the 12 young women leaving for India to study pharmacy or ultrasonography have been implanted with the contraceptive Implanon, which will prevent them from falling pregnant for three years.
The group of 30 students from poor backgrounds left for India this morning on state bursaries to study at the Manipal University in Jaipur.
On Monday night, Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo announced at a farewell dinner that the department would be implanting female students to make sure they complete their studies without falling pregnant while abroad.
Dhlomo said four girls had been taken off the Cuban doctors’ programme after they fell pregnant, while their male counterparts in the same programme continued studying.
He had raised concerns that the government could not afford to waste any more money on students, and said once they fell pregnant, their career training with the department would be over.
According to one of the female students who left for India on Thursday, they had been implanted with Implanon on Tuesday.
She said two girls objected to the contraceptive owing to medical concerns.
The process was not painful, she said, and they had been briefed and told about the positive and negative aspects of the contraceptive.
“Most of us are concerned about getting fat, but it will help prevent pregnancy.
“We are protected from pregnancy now, and since you know you won’t be getting pregnant, you might get reckless. But it was made clear that it does not protect you from diseases,” she said.
The Daily News spoke to some of the parents of the students, who said the choice was their daughters’ to make.
Thanda Nkosi, guardian of one of the girls, Angella Buthelezi, said it was understandable that the government would want to protect its investment, but agreed with experts that the choice was for the students to make.
“My child was in high school last year and she has left high school a virgin.
“She’s a born-again Christian and she is a virgin. She said to me, ‘Trust me, you know me, why would I get all these blessings and then tomorrow I do something that’s wrong for my future?’,” she said.
Rachel Majola, mother of Charity Majola, said the decision was her daughter’s. She said what was important was for her daughter to finish her studies and for her to come back and work.