By Amby Uneze
The Imo State Government has threatened to withdraw the certificate of any healthcare provider, including medical personnel involved in the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in whatever form.
Survey recently conducted by the United Nation’s Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) indicates that the state now ranks the highest among women aged 15-49 years (62 per cent) in the country.
The state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Damarius Osunkwo made the disclosure at a one -day stakeholders advocacy meeting on curbing the medicalisation of FGM in the state held in Owerri, the state capital.
Osunkwo said the health ministry had already installed the necessary mechanism for strict monitoring of service providers and had equally carried out several health care services for residents in the state.
The commissioner explained that the advocacy meeting became inevitable to discuss solutions to curb the medicalisation of the FGM and to put the necessary machinery in motion to sanction erring medical personnel as part of activities to accelerate the abandonment of the FGM in the state.
She reminded participants that although medicalisation is presumed to reduce the risk of complications, it does not eliminate them, just as it was not after, the fact that the FGM is a violation of women and girls rights to life, health and bodily integrity.
The one day advocacy/stakeholders meeting was organised by Centre for Population and Reproductive Health (CPRH), University of Ibadan with the support of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for Health Care Professional Associations, their regulatory bodies and other key stakeholders at state level to discuss curbing the medicalisation of FGM among healthcare professionals and sanctioning of erring medical personnel.
At the end of the meeting, participants, regulatory bodies and associations signed declarations to end FGM and its medicalisation.
The Chairman, Child Protection Network, Imo State and a Child Rights advocate, Mr. Vitalis Ekwem, speaking, said that the organisation would ever remain firm in its response and prevention of abuses against children by rendering free legal services to those (children) who are victims of abuse/infringement of their rights.
Ekwem hailed the National Orientation Agency (NOA) and the State Ministry of Gender and Vulnerable Group Affairs for their partnership with UNICEF on the abandonment of FGM, describing the seminar as complementary to the already existing effort.
In his lecture, the Chief Medical Director, Imo State Specialist Hospital Umuguma, Dr. Udujih Bernard Uchenna enumerated four types of FGM and lamented the upsurge of the cultural practice in the South-east, even as he listed possible complications associated with it, psychological causes, reasons for its persistence in most communities and strategies to curb the practice.