Alison Clare Castle, Abate Mersema, Shameem Masra, Abawollo Hailemariam


Background: Female genital mutilation/cutting is a traditional practice that affects more than 23 million females in Ethiopia.  It is a violation of human rights and healthcare practitioners are expected to identify and manage this condition. Our objective was to assess the knowledge, attitude and practice of healthcare practitioners.

Methods: An interviewer-administered survey was distributed to a total of 427 practitioners at Jimma University Hospital and four local health clinics. Convenience sampling was used to recruit participants from June to August of 2013. Respondents were physicians, health officers, nurses, midwives, and medical students. Bivariate analyses with Fischer’s exact test and linear regressions were used to determine associations.

Results: The study consisted of 72% male and 28% female practitioners. Respondent knowledge about the complications of female genital mutilation/cutting was poor. More than a quarter of practitioners (28.6%) believed there were health benefits from the practice. Respondents who held an attitude that their medical training for female genital mutilation/cutting was sufficient were more likely to discuss the topic with patients. Attitudes were primarily to educate and sensitize patients (77.5%) or ignore the issue (12.2%).

Conclusions: The majority of practitioners felt their medical training on female genital mutilation/cutting was inadequate. An attitude of sufficient training increases the likelihood healthcare practitioners will discuss female genital mutilation/cutting. With the high proportion of males in the healthcare system, it is necessary for future interventions to educate healthcare providers, particularly males, on female genital mutilation/cutting. Open discussion may serve to increase awareness and communication about the prevailing social expectations around female genital mutilation/cutting. 

 Keywords: Female genital mutilation/cutting, healthcare provider knowledge, Ethiopia


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