Dr Jide Idris, the Commissioner for Health in Lagos State, on Friday, called for robust government policy to develop advocacy to educate and enlighten community and religious leaders on the ills of Female Genital Mutilation.
Idris made the call during a review of family health programmes of the Lagos State Government.
He said FGM was a hazardous socio-cultural practice mostly done by traditional practitioners.
According to him, the act can lead to urinary tract problems, tetanus infection, severe bleeding, cyst, genital swelling,
complications during child birth and increased risk of neonatal death.
“This intentional alteration of the genital for non-medical reasons has no health benefit as wrongly believed; it does not reduce
libido in women nor contribute to chastity as erroneously claimed.
“On the other hand, it can have long term consequences such as pain during intercourse, decreased sexual satisfaction, problem with menstruation, as well as the need for surgery later in life.”
The commissioner addressed the assumption that the procedure was safer when done by health personnel, stressing that no health worker should support such gross infringement on the well-being of women.
He advised health workers to desist from performing the act and expressed concern about psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder that may accompany such procedure.
According to him, FGM is an unnecessary pain inflicted on women by people they know and respect in the name of chastity. “Usually, family members and leaders of the community carry out this act, hence, it can be a precursor of mental and psychological problems for the affected women, ” he added.
Idris noted that those at risk were the vulnerable segment of female population who were either minors and were usually financially dependent.
He said that the act was a gross violation of the rights of the person’s health, security and physical well-being.
He suggested that the solution to the menace was improved training and policies to ensure that health professionals counselled
young girls and women.
“There is also the need for training and orientation of health and social workers to manage and counsel victims of this barbaric act.
“This will help in no more small measure to alleviate their sufferings and reduce the burden of psychological trauma being experienced by victims.
“The Ministry of Health in Lagos State has an Adolescent/Youth Sexual Reproductive Health Centre to cater for the youths of Lagos, especially with regards to counselling, reproductive health clinic, and provision of preventive and clinical services.”
He added that the Centre was expected to bridge the gap by providing “safe and confidential advise for young people.”
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