30 Jan 2015

Botched circumcisions put boys in hospital

5:13 pm on 30 January 2015

At least eight young Pacific Island boys have been treated in hospital for severe infections caused by botched circumcisions carried out at home.

The Auckland District Health Board said the boys, who were around the age of puberty, had been admitted to Starship Hospital in recent weeks.

Pacific Medical Association president Kiki Maoate said circumcision was a cultural practice in many Pacific Islands and unqualified practitioners were often brought to New Zealand to carry out the illegal operation.

"The concern from a purely health point of view is that these kids are exposed to infections, to the bleeding, to the morbidity of the problems that they've actually presented to the hospitals for - plus issues around sterility and just the sheer discomfort that some of these kids actually go through."

Dr Maoate said he believed the circumcisions were being done at home to save money as they were not covered by district health boards if they were being carried out for cultural reasons.

He said under general anaesthetic circumcisions cost around $2000 for the procedure but under local anaesthetic the procedure costs $300-$500.

Dr Maoate said New Zealand-born children of Pacific Island descent should be given the option of not being circumcised if they did not want to.