Female genital mutilation course to better prepare health and social care professionals

A new course to help health and social care workers understand the many impacts of female genital mutilation (FGM) has been launched by FutureLearn in collaboration with the University of Aberdeen.

The course was developed following a University of Aberdeen survey of UK medical schools that suggested graduating medical students felt under-prepared to deal with FGM in a professional capacity.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) was made illegal in the UK in 1985 but it is thought that more than 100,000 live with the effects in the country today.

The new FutureLearn course launched today (Monday Feb 7) the day after international day of zero tolerance for female genital mutilation aims to fill in a gap identified in training for many health and social care professionals in the UK, and beyond.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM): Health, Law, and Socio-Cultural Sensitivity has been developed following research from the University of Aberdeen to help add context to the wider impacts of FGM and the legal duty of a health and social care professional in reporting FGM practices within the UK and to support the realisation of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Dr Heather Morgan, who led a series of teaching and researching activities that contributed to the development of the course, said: “FGM is a much wider problem and more complex than medical examination, and so we’ve developed a course with a range of professionals in mind, although it’s open to all.

“Along with two intercalating medical students (Victoria Kinkaid and France Miriam Inverarity) we surveyed all UK medical schools’ students to establish how prepared they felt for clinical practice around FGM, and especially the mandatory reporting duty, and found that preparedness was worryingly low.”

The team won an award for their findings when they presented them at the 2021 Annual Academic Meeting and the abstract was published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Dr Morgan continues: “Meanwhile, I had also been supervising a number of work-based placements andMSc Global Health and Management research projects, involving collaboration with several partner organisations includingSamburu Women and Girls and28 Too Many. These acknowledged and addressed local FGM practices and FGM diaspora issues following migration. I then supervised research that systematically reviewed all UK legal cases brought to court to prevent travel for FGM purposes.

Based on all this work, and subsequent conversations with relevant stakeholders, we identified a gap in training for many health and social care professionals in the UK, and beyond. While there is some online learning available, with the support of more recent MSc Global Health and Management students, Temitope Ojewola and Tolulope Aina, as well as our eLearning/On Demand colleagues, we have been working hard to design it and we’re really excited about it as we’re finally at the point of it all coming together.

 The course aims specifically to help people:

  • Identify the four types of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and their characteristics
  • Describe the physical and psychological, cultural and social aspects and impacts of FGM
  • Apply knowledge and understanding (recognising FGM; reporting FGM; advocacy);
  • Critique case studies of FGM practices from a range of perspectives
  • Evaluate when and how it is appropriate to act in relation to legal responsibilities as a health and social care professional, educator or employee of a police service
  • Contribute to the creation of strategies to end FGM

The end of the first run of the four-week course will coincide with International Women’s Day 2022, 8 March.

Find out more details about the Female Genital Mutilation (FGM): Health, Law, and Socio-Cultural Sensitivity course and sign up here.

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