New Specialist Female Genital Mutilation Unit to be Created for the NHS

The Department of Health has announced that mental health services will be developed in order to provide specialist support for victims of female genital mutilation (FGM).

This new service will go online in England in the immediate future.

Healthcare professionals will be trained to understand how to treat the psychological impact of the procedure, according to government officials.

The Department of Health has been working alongside groups of survivors of the heavily criticised practice with the aim of understanding the mental health implications involved.

Online training tools and guidance will also be developed, with NHS healthcare professionals being versed in all the implications of female genital mutilation.

Commenting on the decision to address these very real health problem, Public Health minister Jane Ellison emphasised why the government believes it to be important.

“I think it’s the next obvious step in how we support girls and women who’ve been through FGM. We’ve made a lot of progress on the physical side of things but what really comes through from the conversations that you have with people who’ve been through FGM, is that the trauma can stay with them for a lifetime.”

Healthcare professionals working in England and Wales are already legally required to report cases of female genital mutilation to police.

It is hoped that this latest initiative will play a major role in eliminating the abusive and illegal practice from the United Kingdom within a generation.

Although campaigners have been hugely critical of the practice, it still remains relatively common in 29 countries in Africa, with nations in Asia and the Middle East also carrying it out.

It is estimated by charities that approximately 3 million females worldwide are at risk of being genitally mutilated every year.

In addition, over 125 million victims worldwide are currently estimated to be living with the consequences of the barbaric practice already.

While genital mutilation is not necessarily particularly common in the UK, it is nonetheless important for health professionals to understand the issues in order to tackle it effectively.

The process is usually carried out before the age of 15, and is often motivated by religious beliefs related to sexual behaviour.

Aside from the psychological trauma, female genital mutilation also encompasses numerous physical dangers.

These include severe bleeding, problems urinating, infections, infertility and increased risk of newborn deaths in childbirth

In December 2012, the UN General Assembly approved a resolution calling for all member states to ban the practice.

 

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