MPILO Central Hospital has initiated a register for people with ambiguous genitalia in a bid to help them deal with the issue and avoid future psycho-social problems they may encounter regarding sexuality.
Ambiguous genitalia is a rare condition in which an infant’s external genitals don’t appear to be clearly either male or female at birth.
In a baby with ambiguous genitalia, the genitals may be incompletely developed or the baby may have characteristics of both sexes.
Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, Mpilo Central Hospital clinical director Dr Solwayo Ngwenya said it was saddening to see parents parading their children before prophetic healers instead of seeking medical care.
He said the issue was prevalent in most parts of Matabeleland due to historic factors though most of the affected prefer to suffer in silence due to stigma.
“We decided to help our communities deal with ambiguous genitalia after noting many resort to faith healers to solve the medical problem. We have started a register which will help us ascertain the prevalence and we will be able to help everyone who will approach our public relations department for help,” said Dr Ngwenya.
“We launched this register on Monday and already we have people from as far as Plumtree registering their new born babies for help. Ideally we should be able to help affected children soon after birth but because of other factors we tell mothers to come back for surgery after some months and they just disappear,” he said.
According to Dr Ngwenya prolonged delays in determining the sex of a person may expose them to diseases like cancer.
“We have also attended to a few cases of older people who present with cancer only for us to discover they had been living with unsolved ambiguous genitalia. We have a lot of girls who are being raised as boys and upon reaching puberty, they can start menstruating which can cause cancer problems in the long run,” he said.
Dr Ngwenya said Mpilo Central Hospital has the capacity to screen and determine the dominant hormones in person and conduct necessary surgeries if there be need.
“For under fives as per Government policy we will not charge anything just like for adults aged over 65. However if anyone feels they cannot afford the services we will do our best to get them donors and still conduct the procedure so that they get help,” said Dr Ngwenya.
He added that people with ambiguous genitalia cannot be classified under the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community as that belief tends to fuel stigma.
“This is a medical problem that must be solved medically to avoid future health problems for those affected. We therefore urge members of the public to come in their numbers and register,” said Dr Ngwenya.