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Digital health innovation to support sensitive enquiry about female genital mutilation

02 May 2021
16 min read
Volume 29 · Issue 5

Abstract

Health professionals working in community settings are increasingly using mobile technologies to access information and support clients. A Mary Seacole Leadership Award enabled the production of an app, ‘Let's talk FGM’ (later becoming the web app letstalkfgm.nhs.uk), to assist health professionals to make sensitive inquiry about female genital mutilation (FGM). This article outlines the rationale for the project and the steps needed for successful app development. 

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a sensitive subject to discuss (Royal College of Nursing [RCN], 2019). For many health professionals working in community and primary care, instantaneous access to information is crucial to initiate and develop such conversations, keeping in mind the safeguarding, legal and therapeutic aspects of care for those affected by FGM (RCN, 2019). To lead such discussions, health professionals require knowledge and confidence around the issue of FGM. In community settings, access to high quality, contemporary sources to support such discussions is key. This project therefore addressed this need by harnessing digital technologies.

A Mary Seacole Award (MSA) in Leadership was granted to author one to produce the ‘Let's talk FGM’ app, to assist health professionals to make sensitive inquiry about FGM, identify girls at risk, and direct survivors towards care and support. MSAs are awarded following a competitive application process to nurses, midwives and health visitors working in England seeking to undertake a project that will positively impact the lives of people from groups. The MSAs incorporate academic (provided by author two) and professional mentorship, and funding for project planning, implementation and conclusion-all within one calendar year. The awards take inspiration from the pioneering 19th century Jamaican/British nurse, Mary Seacole (Anionwu, 2006) and aim to build on her legacy.

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