Wednesday, 2 July 2008

FGC elimination: A veritable means of reducing maternal and perinatal deaths

Group deliberation on the FGC policy by national stakeholders

Though it has not been duly recognized in recent times, Female Genital Cutting(FGC) has been knowledged to be one of the causes of perinatal and maternal morbidity and mortality in Nigeria. Since it is widely practiced in Nigeria, all efforts must be made to ensure the elimination of this practice to help reduce the number of women who die from the complication of FGC at childbirth.

This assertion was made last week at the meeting organized by the Federal ministry of Health in Jos Plateau with sponsorship from the UNICEF, UNFPA and the WHO.

Mrs Stella Akinso, representing the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Country Director in Nigeria, Sidiki Coulibaly, in her opening speech to the stakeholders lamented the high maternal morbidity and mortality rates in Africa and Nigeria especially.

Her words, “The perinatal mortality occasioned by FGC is quite high in Nigeria similarly the maternal mortality due to other childbirth-related causes. So anything that would help Nigeria in the achievement of the MDG 4 and 5 is welcome and must be coordinated such that different body and agency would work effectively towards their achievement. We can achieve the goals through the effective roll-out and implementation of the IMNCH strategy, through family planning programmes, and the FGC elimination programmes. These are all targeted at ensuring that the lives of women and children are safe-guarded and improved by 2015.”

According to her “we have brought all stakeholders who we know are working in the field of FGC and have the expertise in all the issues surrounding the practice of FGM in Nigeria. We are held to review the policy, make amendments such that at the end of this meeting, we would have a document that is practical and implement-able in Nigeria. If by the end of 2015, we can not get a zero level of FGC practice, at least we would been able to achieve 80% of FGC elimination.”

As a means of making the policy more workable, Akinso stated that there is a need to have a national legislation on the eradication of FGC. “Right now, we have state laws in about 11 states out of the 36 in Nigeria and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. What we need is to convince people to change their minds about this practice that is inimical to the health and lives of women in our country. This, we hope would be captured in the policy and the plan of action being developed at this meeting”, she intoned.

* By Nnenna Ike

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