Sixteen boys in hospital after botched circumcision

Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County

The Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County. The hospital says 16 boys are currently admitted after developing complications during circumcision. 

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

Sixteen boys are currently recuperating at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County after developing complications while undergoing circumcision.

According to MTRH chief executive Dr Wilson Aruasa, the boys are being treated for secondary infections (sepsis) after undergoing the cut. Sepsis usually results from bacterial infection and can be a life-threatening medical emergency. 

The initiates are from Uasin Gishu, Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet and Nandi counties.

The patients were admitted at the facility on various dates between December and early this month.

"They are responding well to treatment. They mainly got secondary infections after undergoing circumcision," Dr Aruasa told the Nation.

Several communities in Kenya conduct traditional circumcision as part of cultural rites where boys transition from childhood to manhood. 

The recent past, however, has seen growing cases of boys succumbing to infections as result of botched circumcisions. They include a case of a 14-year-old boy from Tarakwa in Ainabkoi Sub-County in Uasin Gishu County who died from complications following a botched circumcision on December 3. Three others are reported to have also succumbed to injuries. 

Mr Gilbert Kirwa Maina with a photo of his son,

Mr Gilbert Kirwa Maina with a photo of his son, who died of septic shock following an infection obtained from a botched circumcision, during an interview at his home in Tarakwa, Uasin Gishu County on December 29, 2022.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

The teen, who had just completed KCPE, was looking forward to joining a prestigious high school after scoring 395 marks.

On the day of the initiation, the boy had joined his four cousins at his uncle’s home in Lelmokwo, Nandi County for the traditional rites and the five were set for an elaborate graduation ceremony later in the month.

But, two days later, he started vomiting, lost his appetite and appeared weak. His legs began to swell and he complained of chest pains and a bloated stomach, his father Gilbert Kirwa Maina said.

Septic shock is a life-threatening condition that causes organ failure and dangerously low blood pressure. Symptoms include pale and cool arms and legs, chills, difficulty in breathing and decreased urine output. Mental confusion and disorientation may also develop quickly. 

Mr Kirwa blamed the death of his last-born son on delayed diagnosis of the condition.

Dr Aruasa emphasized the need for infection prevention and control as well as primary healthcare during initiation in order to curb complications. 

"Training of the surgeons on proper surgery, infection prevention and control and general hygiene measures is crucial and could help mitigate against complications," explained Dr Aruasa.