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Mthatha -

The Eastern Cape health department has employed additional doctors to deal with initiates needing treatment after circumcisions in the OR Tambo region.

“ (The) district is the worst affected area in the province,” the department said in a statement on Tuesday.

“(We) have now hired six additional medical doctors to focus on treating injuries in this region.”

A total of 47 vehicles had been hired for traditional chiefs and health officials to visit boys in the bush.

Forty volunteers were helping in rescue operations in the area.

Health MEC Siqelo Gqobana was planning to visit the Mthatha General and St Barnabas hospitals to assess the situation, as the number of boys needing attention rapidly increased.

The number of patients being treated for traditional circumcision complications stood at 227.

“These boys are mainly presenting dehydration, gangrene, and septic wounds, and some have lost their genitals... some hospitals are now running out of beds and this has prompted the department to identify special wards to treat the boys.”

The department said it was forced to categorise the injuries to provide the correct treatment.

“Those with minor injuries are classified as grade one and two and will be treated at clinics and district hospitals. Grade three and four are those suffering from dehydration, difficulty in passing urine, and those with gangrenous and spontaneous amputation of genitals.”

The department expressed concerned that some boys were brought for medical attention only when their condition had reached an advanced stage.

A total of 28 boys had so far died of their injuries. - Sapa