An interactive data tool launched by WHO reveals the current and future financial cost of health care for women living with conditions caused by FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) .The total costs amount to USD 1.4 billion annually.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons..

The practice is mostly carried out by traditional circumcisers, who often play other central roles in communities, such as attending childbirths.

In many settings, health care providers perform FGM due to the belief that the procedure is safer when medicalized1. WHO strongly urges health care providers not to perform FGM.#endcuttinggirls

FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women.

It is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children.

The practice also violates a person’s rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death.

Types of FGM, Female genital mutilation is classified into 4 major types.

Type 1:  this is the partial or total removal of the clitoral glans (the external and visible part of the clitoris, which is a sensitive part of the female genitals), and/or the prepuce/ clitoral hood (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoral glans).

Type 2:  this is the partial or total removal of the clitoral glans and the labia minora (the inner folds of the vulva), with or without removal of the labia majora (the outer folds of skin of the vulva ).

Type 3: Also known as infibulation, this is the narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal.

The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the labia minora, or labia majora, sometimes through stitching, with or without removal of the clitoral prepuce/clitoral hood and glans (Type I FGM).

Type 4: This includes all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g. pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing the genital area.

Deinfibulation refers to the practice of cutting open the sealed vaginal opening of a woman who has been infibulated, which is often necessary for improving health and well-being as well as to allow intercourse or to facilitate childbirth.

FGM has no health benefits, and it harms girls and women in many ways. It involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue, and interferes with the natural functions of girls’ and women’s bodies.

The ancient ritual – mostly carried out between infancy and 15 years – involves the partial or total removal of external genitalia.

In some cases, the vaginal opening is also sewn up.

Generally speaking, risks of FGM increase with increasing severity (which here corresponds to the amount of tissue damaged), although all forms of FGM are associated with increased health risk.

Nigeria, due to its large population, has the highest absolute number of female genital mutilation (FGM) worldwide, accounting for about one-quarter of the estimated 115–130 million circumcised women in the world. ( www.online Nigeria, PubMed of the national library of medicine www.medconsumer. Info/tropics/fgm.htm)

The national prevalence rate of FGM is 41% among adult women. However, in 2015, a federal law was put in place banning FGM in Nigeria. Education of the general public at all levels with emphasis on the dangers and undesirability of FGM is paramount..#endcuttinggirls

The costs of FGM, associated with gynecological, obstetric, urological, mental and sexual, and the immediate health complications, can make up to 30 per cent of the health budget in some countries.

An estimated 200 million girls and women worldwide have undergone FGM, which causes a host of mental and physical health problems including hemorrhaging, chronic infections, cysts and life-threatening childbirth complications.

The World Health Organization (WHO) calculated it would cost $1.4 billion a year to treat all resulting medical needs.

“FGM is not only a catastrophic abuse of human rights that significantly harms … millions of girls and women, it is also a drain on a country’s vital economic resources,” said Ian Askew, WHO’s head of sexual and reproductive health.

The new calculator tool, launched on International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM, covers 27 countries, mostly in Africa.

The cost in Egypt would be about $876,825,000 and Sudan $274,765,000. In some countries the costs would amount to 30% of their yearly health expenditure, demonstrating the clear economic benefits of ending FGM, WHO said.

But global anti-FGM charity 28 Too Many said the health costs were a “drop in the ocean” compared to the wider costs for society and the economy.

“Girls who undergo FGM are often married off young, limiting their education and prospects,” executive director Ann-Marie Wilson told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.”This entrenches poverty in communities and seriously holds back countries’ economic development.”

WHO scientist Christina Pallitto, who worked on the tool, said the long-term impacts of infection and pain could also affect girls’ school attendance and work opportunities.

“All of this radically undermines the ability of women and girls to meet their potential,” she added.

World leaders have pledged to end FGM by 2030, but U.N. data published on Thursday showed rates in some countries were the same as 30 years ago, including in Somalia where the practice remains almost universal.

WHO estimated that the health cost of FGM would soar by 50% by 2050 if no action is taken, as populations grow and more girls are cut.#endcuttinggirls

“High healthcare costs for countries mount because of the tragic personal impacts on women and girls.

Governments have a moral responsibility to help end this harmful practice,” says Dr Prosper Tumusiime, Acting Director for Universal Health Coverage and the Life Course in the African Regional Office of WHO.

Inconclusion, FGM hurts girls, imposes lifelong health risks on women, and strains the healthcare systems that need to treat them.

At this point, I will stop the conversation so we can reflect on the key points discussed as I entertain any questions.

Thanks for being part of the conversations today. Join us every other Thursday 5-7pm.

Visit our www.endcuttinggirls.org for more info and updates on FGM, and kindly follow the handle “@Endcuttinggirls” on all social media platforms.

Together we will end FGM in this Generation.