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Uganda, 19 February 2015: Zero Tolerance Day: Health workers critical in fighting female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C)

19 February 2015, KAMPALA, Uganda – The United Nations, Government and other partners, commemorating the International Zero Tolerance Day to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in Nakapiripirit District today, appeal to all health workers in Uganda to play a leading role in promoting the abandonment of the practice of FGM/C.

This year’s theme is Mobilization and involvement of Health personnel to accelerate Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation.

The United Nations calls upon health workers to use their influence, not only in the communities where they work, but also with their colleagues to accelerate the abandonment of FGM/C everywhere.

For the girls who have already undergone FGM, the health workers have been asked to protect their sexual and reproductive health.

In Uganda, a multi-sector approach to accelerate the abandonment of FGM/C has been adopted involving stakeholders and service providers from the Justice, Law and Order (JLOS), Social Development and Health Sectors. Representatives from these sectors were trained on the Anti FGM/C Act and on the effect of FGM/C on the health of women and girls.

In 2014, 60 professional health workers and 30 Village Health Teams in some of the six practicing districts were trained on the Anti-FGM Act, as well as on management of cases of FGM/C. Efforts by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and United Nations Children’s Funds (UNICEF) through the Joint Programme of FGM/C and in partnership with the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development to reach out to all health workers in all the practicing districts shall be made in 2015, so as to create a well skilled health workers force that is able to provide professional assistance to girls and women who have undergone FGM/C.

1n 2014, 10 girls refused to undergo FGM/C in Amudat District and they have been provided care and protection by local NGOs supported by UNICEF.

“With this engagement and training, we believe that the health workers can become advocates among the communities for the abandonment of the practice,” says UN Resident Coordinator in Uganda Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie.

Health workers also have a deep understanding of the harmful consequences of this practice. They see the urinary, menstrual, and obstetric complications — including haemorrhage, infection and death — caused by it. And, they also witness the emotional wounds FGM/C inflicts, trauma which often lasts a lifetime.

Health workers are also uniquely well-positioned to lead the effort to resist a disturbing trend that has emerged in many countries: The medicalization of FGM/C where the cutting is done by medical personnel/health workers! Around one in five girls have been cut by a trained health-care provider. In some countries, this can reach as high as three in four girls. This trend is because of the belief that FGM/C performed by trained health-care providers is safe. This is false. FGM/C is never safe!

UNFPA, the, and UNICEF, through the Joint Programme on FGM/C are committed to supporting efforts to provide health workers with the skills and information they need to accelerate the abandonment of FGM/C – and to treat the complications that arise from the practice.

In 2015 the UN Joint Programme on FGM/C will continue focusing on:

  • Social mobilization and behavior change campaigns on FGM/C and child marriage;
  • Follow up for sustained actions in communities that have declared abondonment in 2014;
  • Strengthen the community monitors system with innovations like U-report;
  • Strenghten cross-border mechnaisms to tackle the issue of girls and cutters crossing to Kenya;
  • Continue advocacy efforts on the Government to provide services for FGM/C survivors, especially in the most rural/hard to reach areas of Karamoja; and
  • Advocating for more resources to support JLOS response in this.

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

UNFPA works to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.

For more information, please contact:

In UNICEF, Jaya Murthy, Chief of Communication, UNICEF Uganda, +256 772 171 100;

Catherine N. Makumbi, Communication Specialist, +256 772629567, +256703 729 567;

In UNFPA, Prossy Nakanjako, Team Leader Communications, +256-772-615319;



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