Unveiling FGM Research in Guinea, Kenya, and Somalia: CERREGUI’s Findings

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The Reproductive Health Research Unit in Guinea (CERREGUI) presented in Conakry yesterday, Wednesday, May 31, 2023, the results of research carried out in several regions of Guinea, Kenya and Somalia on female genital mutilation. This study is part of a new health systems approach for the prevention of female genital mutilation using a people-centered communication system in the 3 countries. The research results dissemination workshop brought together health actors from these countries, members of CERREGUI, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the British Embassy, noted a Guineematin.com reporters who attended this presentation.

The search for this new approach in the prevention of genital mutilation was carried out in two regions of each of the countries concerned by this method. It consisted of using health workers to sensitize women and girls who go to health facilities for prenatal consultations on FGM.

“It is the second stage that we want to report today, because that is the evaluation of the interventions that resulted from the first stage that we carried out exclusively in Guinea in 2018, returned in 2018. these results, WHO Geneva has initiated with the Ministries of Health of the various countries a new research which will test the instruments to see how to participate in the reduction of the risk of excision, which is also commonly called female genital mutilation. Unfortunately, our country is one of the countries at the top of the list for the very high frequency of female genital mutilation with Somalia. As such, we have tested the new approaches by saying that we will address pregnant women who come for the prenatal consultation. From that moment we sensitize them, so we trained health providers in this sense, we used 2 regions (Faranah and Conakry) to test this approach in Guinea, 2 regions in Kenya and the same thing in Somalia. We tested the method to see if together by raising the awareness of future mothers very early on so that when they are going to give birth to children, if they are girls, they are not circumcised. And the approach paid off very well because we actually had a group where we tested the method and a second control group where we did not test the method. At the end, the 2 groups were evaluated and the one who tested the method was 6 times more inclined to abandon excision than the group that was not tested,” explained Professor Mamadou Diouldé Baldé, coordinator of the research unit. in reproductive health in Guinea.

After using this new approach, it turns out that health providers are a very effective vehicle for promoting the fight against female genital mutilation because they are in direct contact with pregnant women and girls.

“We have found that health providers can be people of change during routine prenatal consultations. The trained health providers who communicated with antenatal clients during visits, and those who received the communication were more supportive of resisting FGM and more committed to fighting FGM. It is very important to incorporate an element of prevention in the health sector with multisectoral programs in Guinea and in other countries that are affected by the practice of FGM”, recalled Christina Pallitto, department of sexual health and reproduction WHO Geneva.

And for Dr Dieney Fadima Kaba, National Director of Family Health and Nutrition at the Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene, this change comes at the right time because for several years the fight against FGM has been carried out in Guinea but the result does not meet expectations.

“If 20 years ago we are fighting against a practice, we have not yet succeeded in reducing it significantly, there is reason to wonder about what we are doing to see if there is has another way of looking at wrestling. And so, it is in this that research is an essential element for understanding the behaviors and social norms that promote this practice in order to better act on these norms to produce the desired change in order to reduce this harmful practice for the health of women and girls in our country,” she said.

In Guinea as elsewhere in the world, female genital mutilation continues to take place, so it is important to intensify efforts to end it. It is only the World Health Organization that has supported this new approach.

“Female genital mutilation is a harmful traditional practice that affects 200,000,000 women and girls worldwide. This practice is a flagrant violation of the rights of women and girls, including their right to health, safety and physical integrity. This practice sometimes leads to tragedies including premature deaths. In Guinea, according to the DHS, 95% of girls and women aged 15 to 49 have been victims of female genital mutilation… In fact, 390,000 girls under the age of 15 still undergo this practice each year. This challenges us to accelerate efforts and investments in favor of children and young girls to achieve a total abandonment of this practice. Although it is an ancient practice, there is reason to believe that we can end FGM in a single generation,” said Dr Cécé Vieux Kolié, WHO Pharmaceutical Advisor in Guinea.

For her part, Alishba Khaliq, First Counselor of the British Embassy, recalled her country’s firm desire to fight against this harmful practice for the health of women and girls.

“The UK government is strongly committed to ending gender-based violence, and female genital mutilation is one of the most extreme manifestations of violence: it causes enormous physical and emotional harm to people and puts pressure huge impact on the health care system. Treating the complications of FGM costs the 27 worst-affected countries a staggering $1.4 billion a year…The UK was pleased to support the new study which we will examine in detail today and the UK is well known for its role in the fight against FGM,” she said.

This article is originally published on guineematin.com

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