Evidence to inform education, training and supportive work environments for midwives involved in the care of women with female genital mutilation

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Conference Proceeding
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Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a practice that is carried out on young girls and women in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East, as well as some Asian countries (WHO, 2008). Migration from these countries to Australia has led to an increasing number of midwives caring for women with FGM and educating families in order to prevent this harmful and illegal practice. However very little is known about the challenges midwives face in delivering care and education and what professional development and workplace strategies might better support midwives. This presentation reports on a synthesis of the peer reviewed literature published between 2004 and 2014 undertaken to identify the knowledge, experiences and needs of midwives globally with respect to FGM. This review forms part of a larger research project funded by the Department of Health and Aging to examine the obstetric outcomes of women who have FGM and midwives experiences in Australia. Ten papers were included in the review, two from lower-middle income counties and eight from high income countries. The findings indicate that midwives lack technical knowledge and cultural competency to adequately care for women. Midwives, particularly those in lower-middle income counties where FGM was traditionally practiced were found to face significant challenges in their efforts to advocate for the abandonment of the practice. Training for midwives in the area of FGM was limited. Only one study reported the outcomes of an education initiative that was found to be beneficial. Professional education and training, a working environment supported by guidelines and responsive policy and community education, were suggested are necessary to enable midwives to improve the care of women with FGM and advocate against the practice. Implications for midwifery in NSW include the need for specialised education and training for midwives on FGM, alongside opportunities for collaborative practice in contexts that support the effective reporting of FGM to authorities. Our research project will seek to further examine the implications of this review through a nation-wide survey of Australian midwives and focus group discussions with midwives in selected hospital s in NSW.
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