Health minister, UNICEF, others call for synergy to end FGM

The Federal Ministry of Health, Tuesday called for dialogue among actors in order to end Female genital mutilation (FGM).

The minister of health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, who was represented by the head of gender, Adolesence/School of health and elderly division (GASHE) in ministry of Health, noted the need to come up with particular strategy to do away with FGM in Ebonyi state.

Mr Osagie disclosed this during a one day quarterly meeting of Ebonyi state Technical Committee(STC) on FGM, organized by the state Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development in collaboration with the state Ministry of Health with support from United Nations Children fund (UNICEF).

He said, “Our biggest objective would be to dialogue within ourselves, whether we would be able to provide all the strategies that are peculiar, particular in Ebonyi state in eliminating female genital mutilation.

“And so our porpose first of all from the federal ministry of Health Abuja is to sit down with you and listen to what you have done, like I said we will also go home with valuable information that will enable us to say yes this is what is happy in Ebonyi and these are the things, modifications we think should be okay for Ebonyi state.

“I want to hear us the source to tell the true situation of FGM in the state, somebody had earlier said that FGM in Ebonyi state has gone underground, unearth the reasons why it has gone underground and if it has gone underground what do we do to stop it.

“The fact that the medical personnel’s are involved in the practice of FGM is a very disturbing situation, in the sense that all over the world health personnel’s are respected, they are given high accord when it comes to issues of health. If the story therefore are that health providers are part of this practice then you can see that it is very serious.

“Because FGM has been named, it’s illegal in Nigeria, no person whether your health personnel or not, you belong to the ministry of health or not to be part of it. Whether it is cultural obligation where it is believed that if you did not do it then you will not be regarded as part of the community has right to mutilate the female child.”

On his part, the Chief of field office, UNICEF Enugu, Dr Ibrahim Conte represented by the Child Specialist, Victor Atuchukwu, decried non involvement of men in the fight against FGM.

“When we had an engagement with the Honorable speaker of the state he made us realise something, that because men are not being involved in this crusade to end FGM that is why it persist, imagine where the number 3 man of the state is not fully aware of this. If the men can be made to be changing diapers of their children they will know when the child’s critoris is tampered with.

“It is not easy to do away with culture and norms, the totality of what we do is to have the community buy it, have the finest hospital, trust me when we prevent the practice of FGM we will save the money for response service and build more roads and bridges in Ebonyi state.
” If we want to achieve this we will have to go back to the community, on Sunday when we went to a church in Izzi on spotlight activities to end all forms of violence against women and children, women and men stood up to tell us frankly that both cutting and massaging is still happening. In the open we have down tools but when you go back to the facilities the health workers are actually one of our problems”.