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Gynecologist warns maternal deaths have causes other than FGM

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By Tabora Bojang

Dr Abdoulie Keita, a consultant gynecologist and head of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Unit at Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital, has said some 52 women died at the hospital during pregnancy or childbirth but the causes are not related to FGM.

He explained that the leading contributing factors to the deaths of these women are hypertensive diseases in pregnancy, infection, bleeding and shortcomings of the medical and referral systems.  Dr Keita made this revelation before National Assembly Members when he was invited to give his expert opinion on female genital mutilation on Thursday. 

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Dr Keita further disclosed that very few people are appropriately trained in the field and the referral system is bad because people don’t recognise the risk factors for women who are likely to get complications so that they can be appropriately referred.

The NAMs are currently engaged in stakeholder consultations on the Women’s Amendment Bill which seeks to decriminalise FGM.  The bill passed the second reading and was referred to a joint committee on women, children, disaster and humanitarian relief to consult the public and report back to the plenary.

Continuing his contribution, Dr Keita who has 20 years practical experience in medicine and surgery, also told deputies that since he took over at the obstetrics and gynecology unit in 2022, they have “not recorded any pregnancy related deaths associated with FGM/C.”

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He said the majority of complaints they received in relation to FGM/C are about difficulties in penetration which according to him was mainly influenced by fear factors.

Dr Keita said as the head of the Obs and Gynae, he would have loved to answer questions on issues like maternal mortality- such as “why women are dying of cancer because those are what is affecting our women more than the FGM/C”.

”But unfortunately, we go into these things because they are driven by donors but I think as a country we should look into what is our priority and put efforts and resources into that rather than agendas brought to us by people outside,” he advised

He lamented that his department was built before he himself was born and until now, it is in the same state. “When it was built the population of this country was about two hundred thousand, but now we are two million. We struggle even with office spaces, operating theatre spaces and bed spaces because sometimes two women will share the same bed with their children. These are the things that we should be looking after not this FGM/C or whatsoever,” Dr Keita argued.

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