The practice of female genital mutilation, FGM is usually attributable to the handiwork of traditional circumciser, however emerging scientific evidence shows that a significant proportion of FGM is being performed by healthcare professionals.
This has remained a global public health challenge. The burden of FGM is huge is Nigeria, with one out of every four women being a victim of this harmful practice. Of these proportion of women with FGM, 13% had their genital mutilated by healthcare professionals.
Based on global best practices, FGM violates medical ethics when performed by a health worker in a clinical setting or the community. It may also confer a sense of legitimacy to FGM or give the impression that it is without health consequences, which can undermine efforts towards its abandonment. Medicalization of FGM can only be curbed if the authorities responsible for regulating the practices of the various health workers are brought on board the fight against FGM.
To this end, the Federal Ministry of Health in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund – UNFPA organised a national stakeholders/advocacy meeting tagged “Curbing medicalization of Female Genital Mutilation and sanctioning of erring Medical personnel in Nigeria” where all health associations, regulatory bodies and health professionals came together to channel a course on how to prevent the medicalization of FGM through investing in awareness creation, curriculum review and sensitizing regulatory bodies in implementing sanctions for erring medical personnel.
The UNFPA provided the financial and technical support for the meeting while the meeting was facilitated by Centre for Population and Reproductive Health, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan.
Speaking at the event, the Assistant Country Representative of UNFPA, Dr. Eugene Kongnyuy, said that if FGM continues to be practiced at the current levels, 68 million girls will be subjected to FGM by 2030. He stated that some of the major goals of UNFPA with the hope of a global transformative result is ending female gender-based violence and harmful practices of which one is Female Genital Mutilation, FGM.
He made a call to all present to work towards being an agent of change in their various communities. A Declaration against the act was made during the meeting.
Present at the meeting were representatives from the FMOH, MDCN, NMCN, CHPRBN, SOGON, PAN, NPMCN (O&G faculty), NACHP, SPHPN, APHPN, AMOHN and NANNM.
The meeting yielded a positive outcome as health regulatory bodies and associations present all gave a verbal declaration and written declaration to end the medicalization of FGM in its various types and forms.