UNFPA employs innovative ways to fight FGM

midwives toolkitUNFPA has developed an innovative way that will take the fight against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) to greater heights. The crucial role of the midwife in the fight against FGM is highlighted. Globally, UNFPA has introduced an e-learning module for midwives aimed at mobilising them in the prevention and care of FGM through its FGM and Midwifery Programmes.

The UNFPA e-learning multimedia module is interactive, contains a built-in quiz and is accessible on and off-line.

The toolkit is being rolled-out in collaboration with national midwives associations.

Key objectives of the module include educating midwives on the consequences of FGM including health risks and human rights violations, providing midwives with a clear understanding of FGM as a social norm and preparing midwives to become champions of FGM prevention by strengthening their skills to serve as role models, counselors, and advocates for change.

Currently, the course is available in English with Arabic and French editions to be available in May 2015. The English version of module can be found on http://fgmprevention.unfpa.org 

“The UNFPA Somalia country office has started working with the Ministry of Health in Somalia to ensure that the initiative is rolled out,” said UNFPA Chief Technical Adviser for Reproductive and Maternal Health, Dr. Achu Lordfred.

In Somalia, FGM prevalence is about 95 percent and is primarily performed on girls aged between 4 and 11 years. Despite the many internationally recognised laws against FGM, lack of validation in Islam and global advocacy to eradicate the practice, it remains embedded in Somali culture.

“FGM can have severely adverse effects on the physical, mental and psychosocial well-being of those who undergo the practice. The health consequences of FGM are both immediate and life-long,” said Dr. Lordfred, adding: “FGM contributes enormously to negative maternal health outcomes including maternal deaths, obstetric fistula, chronic reproductive and urinary tract infections. This toolkit is therefore a very welcome initiative for us in Somalia.”

According to UNFPA, FGM is a deeply entrenched cultural practice and many midwives face significant social pressure from the community to perform it and that midwives, are however ill- equipped to resist this pressure because the majority of midwives have not received formal training and education on FGM. The toolkit has therefore been introduced to reverse the trend of increasing medicalization of FGM by strengthening the capacities of midwives on FGM and engaging them in the campaign to end female genital mutilation with the hope that the midwives will play the key role not only in averting maternal and newborn deaths, but also in promoting good health in communities as a whole.

 

Pilirani Semu-Banda
UNFPA Somalia Communications Specialist