Operationalization of the policy brief against medicalization of FGM-continue

She mentioned that typically, traditional circumcisers have carried out the procedure, but the practice is increasingly being carried out by medical professionals and that FGM is practiced in households at all educational levels and all social classes and occurs among many religious groups (Muslims, Christians, and animists), although no religion mandates it.

She noted that FGM poses serious physical and mental health risks for women and young girls, especially for those who have undergone extreme forms of the procedure and has been linked to increased complications in childbirth and even maternal deaths. Other side effects of the practice include severe pain, haemorrhage, tetanus, infection, infertility, cysts and abscesses, urinary incontinence, and psychological and sexual problems.

The FGM prevalence was reported to vary within and across borders, hence, looking only at the national prevalence rates can hide the regional variations within a country and that FGM often reflects ethnicity or social interactions of communities across national borders.

Dr. Wambui noted that in the recent past, there has been a new trend or shift where the practice is increasingly being performed by medical providers as opposed to traditional practitioners or traditional birth attendants. She mentioned that it is for this reason that ACCAF, one of the Implementing Partners under the UN Joint Programme (UNJP) on abandonment of FGM, has been carrying out activities aimed at de-medicalizing the practice while accelerating the abandonment process. The centre has therefore been carrying out activities such as lobbying for inclusion of FGM/C in the training curricula, advocating the Ministry of Health to issue policy briefs against medicalization of FGM/C, training and capacity building for health care providers on demedicalization of FGM and management of complications arising from the practice. She stressed that this meeting therefore, was key especially to lobby the MOH to operationalize the policy brief against medicalization of the FGM practice which currently stands at 19.7%, close to the national prevalence of FGM at 21%.

She therefore urged all ministry of health officials to promote the do no harm code of ethics medical professionals and officially welcomed all to the forum.