Community-based study of circumcision practices in Nigeria

Type Journal Article - Annals of Tropical Medicine and Public Health
Title Community-based study of circumcision practices in Nigeria
Volume 5
Issue 3
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2012
Page numbers 231-235
Background: Circumcision practice around the world has various implications and has generated a lot of debate about the pros and cons of the practice. Nigeria is one of the countries where male and female circumcision practice still occurs however, there has been claim of reduction in female genital cutting. Congregational or 'group' circumcision prevails in some communities as a means of upholding traditions and commemoration of festive period. Objective: To determine the pattern of circumcision practice and identify factors affecting the practice in Ilorin community. Materials and Methods: The study was a descriptive, cross sectional study conducted among parents of under-5 children of both the sexes using pre-tested, semi-structured questionnaires, which were administered to the respondents by trained research assistants over a six-week period. Clinical examination of genital area in index child of each respondent was done by a pediatric surgeon, who was the principal investigator. Results: Three hundred and ninety three (93%) respondents completed the questionnaire and the same number of index children's external genitalia was examined by the pediatric surgeon. The mean age of respondents was 33.2±9.3 years, and the main source of family income was private enterprises and civil services. The circumcision status of fathers was 100%, mothers, 65.6%, and overall female-child circumcision rate was 46.7%. Though, most of the index children were delivered at health centers (72.3%), the circumcisions were performed at almost equal frequencies by traditional circumcisionists (39.8%) and doctors (39.2%), with more than half of the circumcision being done outside the hospital. The mean age at circumcision was 22 ±0.69 months, with 73.9% of girls as against 91.7% boys being circumcised by the age of five years. Family choice was the main determinant of the age at circumcision and the circumcisionist. Female circumcision was done by traditional circumcisionist, nurses, and doctors in 1 in 4, 1 in 5, and 1 in 10 cases of circumcision, respectively. Traditional open (classical) circumcision technique was mostly used (40.4%), followed by Plastibel TM (ring type) (32.6%), and 'group' circumcision was practiced among 41.2% of respondents. Post-circumcision complications were seen in 116 (33.7%) of circumcised children examined. Conclusion: Circumcision practice in Ilorin is still higher among the traditional circumcisionists, despite of high hospital delivery. Female circumcision and 'group' circumcision were also being practiced, using mainly the traditional open circumcision technique. The high rate of circumcision complications indicate the need for proper enlightenment and retraining of health care providers and traditional circumcisionists on the safe methods available. The government should involve the religion and opinion leaders in the community to assist in the prevention of negative and harmful traditional practices including female circumcision.

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