Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting in Liberia

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Exploratory Research Phase

The research titled ‘Health professionals’ perceptions on the health implications of traditional female genital modifications for pregnant women in Liberia’ (PerTradFGMo) is led by Mrs. Christine K. Tarr-Attia (St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital, Liberia) and Mrs. Grace Hawa Boiwu (Mother Patern School of Health Sciences, Liberia). The aim of this research project is to document the implications of traditional female genital modifications (tFGMo) for pregnant women in Liberia, as narrated by the midwives that assist in labour and delivery. The secondary objectives of the project are to i) document how professionals manage the health implications of tFGMo; ii) define how the educational programs for health professionals in Liberia on the management of tFGMo implications should be designed, and; iii) explore contextual barriers and opportunities for pregnant women to seek healthcare when they experience adverse effects of tFGMo. This is a qualitative research that uses a feminist grounded theory approach. This research is entirely funded by AfWORO, and received ethics approval from the University of Liberia-Pacific Institute of Research and Evaluation IRB (Monrovia, Liberia). Seventeen (17) Liberian registered midwives working in Monrovia were invited as key informants. The study started in June 2017 and data collection completed in September 2017. Mrs. Boiwu and Mrs. Tarr-Attia published the results of the research in the form of an open access paper in the scientific journal Reproductive Health.

Translation to Practice Phase

Insights from the midwives have been useful for Mrs. Boiwu and Mrs. Tarr-Attia to propose a comprehensive training programme on the health effects of FGM/C. Their programme proposal won the 2018 ANESVAD ‘Emprender’ (Entrepreneur) Award. Thanks to this award, Mrs. Boiwu and Mrs. Tarr-Attia will have the opportunity to train 60 midwives and 30 traditional circumcisers in rural Liberia. Their project is expected to complete by the first quarter of 2020.

In February 2019, the project kicked-off in Liberia with the implementation of three two-day workshops for midwives, nurses and traditional circumcisers which were held in the town of Ganta and in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital. In total, over 60 health care workers were trained on the health effects of FGM/C. Embracing the possibility to learn, the trainees were eager to acquire knowledge and to reflect on their clinical practice. Following the success of the workshops, coming workshops were scheduled to start in August 2019.

In August of 2019, the project continued with a second workshop for female healthcare providers in Zorzor, Lofa County, Liberia. A total of 21 female nurses and midwives, as well as 20 female trained traditional midwives and community health volunteers attended the workshops. The workshops were centered around training the healthcare providers in the identification and management of psychosexual and gynobstetric needs of women who have undergone FGM/C.

In September of 2019 the PerTradFGMo workshops continued to develop the post-FGM/C management capacities of healthcare providers in Liberia. Following the success of the workshops with female healthcare workers in August 2019, a workshop targeting 30 male healthcare professionals was held in Monrovia, the Liberian capital. This workshop was facilitated by physician assistant and junior researcher Mr. Mandella King, with the support of Mrs. Kim Nordmann, MSc Global Health. In the two-day workshop, the male participants gained knowledge through the lectures and expressed that they were eager to include the newly learned concepts in their clinical practice.