Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Health Reporter
Manufacturers of the only non-surgical male circumcision device, prepex, are working on improving the process to mitigate associated risks like tetanus.
Circ MedTech vice president for regulation and clinical affairs Mr Alon Kushnir said the new process entailed removing the foreskin of the male organ 30 minutes after placement of the ring, as opposed to the previous seven days.
“The device is still the same, but what we have improved is the procedure whereby the foreskin is removed 30 minutes after insertion instead of keeping it for seven days, as was the previous process,” said Mr Kushnir.
Mr Kushnir said Circ MedTech was hoping the new procedure called the prepex day zero foreskin removal procedure (D0FRP) would improve compliance of males because it then becomes easy to wash and use the toilet, unlike the previous procedure.
He said the new device, as was with the old one, did not require any injected anesthesia and had no recovery time.
Circ MedTech chief executive officer Mr Eddy Horowits said studies on effectiveness and safety of the new procedure were at an advanced stage at two different settings in Africa.
“We are carrying out an extensive field study with prepex in which the foreskin is removed shortly after placement of the device, in D0FRP,” he said.
“This method mitigates the device-specific concerns raised by the World Health Organisation, while maintaining, and even adding to, the well known PrePex benefits.”
Mr Horowitz said a large field study of the D0FRP change was at its end phase in Zambia, with more than 600 participants in two different settings.
He said 400 procedures have so far undergone circumcision using the improved method and preliminary results demonstrated the safety and efficacy of the method.
Mr Horowitz said the study would be completed soon, results of which would be submitted to WHO for its review planned sometime in May 2017.
Zimbabwe launched its national male circumcision programme using prepex in January 2015, targeting 1,3 million circumcisions.
Of late, WHO warned of increased risk of tetanus in men from countries with low immunisation coverage who chose prepex as a method for circumcision.
Following these latest guidelines, Zimbabwe stopped the use of prepex unless one proved that they were immunised against tetanus.