BY EMMANUEL MGBEAHURIKE, Owerri
Imo State government has raised the alarm over the increasing rate of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the state, saying that a survey recently conducted by the United Nation’s Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UNICEF in 2018 indicates that the state now ranks the highest among women age 15-49 years (62%) in the country.
Consequently, the government has threatened to withdraw the certificate of any healthcare provider found guilty of the practice.
The State Commissioner for Health Dr.(Mrs) Damarius Osunkwo made the disclose at a one day UNFPA ,UNICEF stakeholders advocacy meeting on curbing the medicalization of FGM in the state, held in Owerri, the state capital.
Osunkwo said that 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 medicalization 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.
Osunkwo warned that although medicalization is presumed to reduce the risk of complications, it does not eliminate them, just as it was not after, the fact that the FGM/C is a violation of women and girls rights to life, health and bodily integrity.
In his contribution, the Director Centre For Population and Reproductive Health, College Of Medicine, University Of Ibadan, Prof. Oladosu Ojengbede, urged the government to find modalities of sanctioning erring healthcare providers.
He called on healthcare workers to look within and strive to be the change agents against medicalization of FGM rather than being perpetrators.
Vitalis Ekwem ,Chairman, Child Protection Network, Imo State and a Child Rights advocate speaking, said that the Organization 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 NOA and the State Ministry of Gender and Vulnerable Group Affairs for their partnership with UNICEF on the abandonment of FGM, describing the meeting as a complement to what is already in existence.
Dr. Udujih Bernard Uchenna, Chief Medical Director, Imo State Specialist Hospital Umuguma in his lecture explained the import of FGM, its genesis which he said predates religion over 2,000 years ago.
The Medical Expert who enumerated 4 types of FGM 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.