Friday, 16 January 2015

Should Doctors Collect FGM/C Data during Antenatal Care?

Doctors need to step up the fight against FGM/C. FGM/C impacts women during child birth, leading to obstetric complications like prolongation of second stage labour, tears and subsequently fistula or episiotomy so as to remove the obstruction. If the obstetrician is caught unaware, he or she will resort to performing a C-section on the mother. Others include perineal tears and infections, fetal distress, cerebral palsy and even still birth. Hence, doctors should record histories of women during antenatal visits. 

At the hospital, doctors are at the point of contact with possible victims of FGM/C and can easily counsel and guide them given their training on the matter rather than waiting to the point of emergency. Kenyan medics should include FGM/C questions and facts in the antenatal cards and books recording a mother’s history. Alternatively, FGM/C prone areas can have a register and questions asked while taking history. These records would not only give us information on what an area is experiencing but also give much needed data on the trend of this scourge. This will in turn make doctors aware so as to track antenatal complications in their area and subsequently see how they can improve the lives of mothers and children. 

Because FGM/C is a generational trend, doctors and clinicians should be well equipped with information and able to advice these women, thus creating more awareness on FGM/C complications. We need more ambassadors, especially medical practitioners, as the social dynamics have proven that people now go to doctors to perform FGM/C hence the term "medicalization of FGM/C." To curb this trend, the doctors should be armed with both socio-cultural and medical information counseling them against performing the cut. After all, no one would want to be caught uninformed, as their information will then lose credibility. 

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