BY DAUDI NANA
KAPCHORWA– Districts in Uganda that still practice female circumcision (FGM) are leading in maternal deaths during child birth, it has been revealed.
Speaking at Kapchorwa Boma Grounds at the Marathon to end FGM in Sebei sub-region organised under the theme; “Run to End FGM: Protect the Health of Women and Girls”, Dr Michael Muwanga, the Kapchorwa District Director of Health Services, said the fear of exposing their mutilated genitals has forced many expectant mothers in Sebei sub-region to deliver at the TBAs, escalating maternal mortality rates.
He said although according to the 2011 UDHS report maternal mortality at national level has reduced from 438 deaths per 100,000 live births to the current 336 deaths per 100,000 live births, the maternal deaths are about 570 per 100,000 amongst the FGM practicing communities.
“Maternal mortality still remains high among the FGM practicing communities like the Sabiny in Bukwo, Kween, and Kapchorwa districts as well as the Pokot in Amudat and Tepeth in Karamoja because the circumcised women shun hospitals and deliver at the hands of TBAs,” Dr Muwanga said.
The director of gender and community development at the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Ms Jane Mpagi, said they have reports that the circumcised women deliver at the hands of TBAs.
“It’s only women who have undergone the cut who know the complications they go through during child birth. This is a culture that we should say no to and save our women from imminent deaths,” said Ms Mpagi who represented the minister of Gender, Labour and Community Development, Hon Janat Mukwaya.
The marathon on ending FGM is now an annual event organized and funded by United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) and Church of Uganda.
The Church of Uganda Archbishop, Stanley Ntagali, the chief runner, described FGM as an outdated culture that must be abandoned because it infringes on the rights of the girl-child.
“Those tying it to religion are misleading their faithful,” Ntagali said.
“This is purely a cultural issue that needs to be stopped considering the adverse side effects on the health of our mothers in the child bearing age,” he added.
Mr Alain Sibenaler, the UNFPA Country representative, urged government to ensure adequate resource allocation to keep girls in school and provide access to health, legal and psychosocial services for survivors and implement strategies to address the international cross-border practice of FGM.
“There is need to engage cultural leaders to adopt rites of passage and cultural ceremonies that celebrate girls and women and respect their dignity and above all engage men and boys in protecting daughters, sisters, wives and all women from FGM and other harmful practices,” said Mr Sibenaler.
He said the marathon had demonstrated that, we need to identify the potential and talents of young people and support them as a means of social and economic empowerment.
He pledged UNFPA commitment in funding activities that are geared towards fighting FGM in Uganda to give girl-child dignity.