Background: Although progress has been made in reducing the magnitude of female genital mutilation/ cutting (FGM/C), however, its practice is still prevalent in some parts of Africa and Asia. More disturbing is the fact that professional health workers (PHW) were reported to be increasingly conducting FGM/C. This study aimed to identify the predictors of PHW practicing FGM/C in Sokoto, Nigeria. It will contribute to the body of knowledge on FGM/C towards its elimination.
Methods: The study was a descriptive cross-sectional design carried out amongst female health workers at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University Teaching Hospital Sokoto,North Western Nigeria. A total of 100 questionnaires were analysed using SPSS statistical software version 18. The outcome variable was practice of FGM/C and logistic regression models on predictors of medicalization of FGM/C among professional health workers were conducted.
Results: Overall, 75(75%) of respondents’ had adequate knowledge with a mean score of 76.4+3. However, only 34% of the respondents have adequate knowledge on types of FGM/C which was statistically associated with the duration of practice (X2=4.74, df=1, P=0.03). Seven of the respondents (7%) have indicated that they have participated in the decision making process, and or directly in the conduct of FGM/C. Out of the seven respondents who have practiced FGM/C, none was within the past 12 months or conducted FGM/C in public health institution. The main predictors of practicing FGM that were statistically significant was tribe (OR=10.48, p=0.02, 95% CI=1.448-75.983) and attitude of respondents towards FGM/C (OR=1.053, p=0.023, 95% CI=1.007-1.101).
Conclusions: The study demonstrated that some PHW continued to support the practice of FGM/C and majority of the study sample had poor knowledge on the types FGM. There is the need to reinforce the topic on FGM/C during school years in order to improve their knowledge and competences. This will also ensure the provision of better quality of services to any new or old cases of FGM/C and its related complications.
Keywords: Female genital mutilation/cutting, medicalization, professional health workers, sokoto, Nigeria