|Secular Trends in the Prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting among Girls: A Systematic Analysis|
||Ngianga-Bakwin Kandala, Martinsixtus C Ezejimofor, Olalekan A Uthman, and Paul Komba
||BMJ Global Health, 3(5): e000549; DOI:10.1136/bmjgh-2017-000549
Female genital cutting (FGC)
Multiple African Countries
Multiple Asian Countries
More than one region
||Background: Current evidence on the decline in the prevalence of female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C) has been lacking worldwide. This study analyses the prevalence estimates and secular trends in FGM/C over sustained periods (ie, 1990-2017). Its aim is to provide analytical evidence on the changing prevalence of FGM/C over time among girls aged 0-14 years and examine geographical variations in low-income and middle-income countries.
Methods: Analysis on the shift in prevalence of FGM/C was undertaken using the Demographic Health Survey (DHS) and Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) data sets from Africa and Middle East. A random-effects model was used to derive overall prevalence estimates. Using Poisson regression models, we conducted time trends analyses on the FGM/C prevalence estimates between 1990 and 2017.
Findings: We included 90 DHS and MICS data sets for 208 195 children (0-14 years) from 29 countries spread across Africa and two countries in Western Asia. The prevalence of FGM/C among children varied greatly between countries and regions and also within countries over the survey periods. The percentage decline in the prevalence of FGM/C among children aged 0-14 years old was highest in East Africa, followed by North and West Africa. The prevalence decreased from 71.4% in 1995 to 8.0% in 2016 in East Africa. In North Africa, the prevalence decreased from 57.7% in 1990 to 14.1% in 2015. In West Africa, the prevalence decreased from 73.6% in 1996 to 25.4% in 2017. The results of the trend analysis showed a significant shift downwards in the prevalence of FGM/C among children aged 0-14 years in such regions and subregions of East Africa, North Africa and West Africa. East Africa has experienced a much faster decrease in the prevalence of the practice (trend=-7.3%, 95% CI -7.5% to -7.1%) per year from 1995 to 2014. By contrast, the decline in prevalence has been much slower in North Africa (trend=-4.4%, 95% CI -4.5% to -4.3%) and West Africa (trend=-3.0%, 95% CI -3.1% to -2.9%).
Conclusion: The prevalence of FGM/C among children aged 0-14 years varied greatly between countries and regions and also within countries over the survey periods. There is evidence of huge and significant decline in the prevalence of FGM/C among children across countries and regions. There is a need to sustain comprehensive intervention efforts and further targeted efforts in countries and regions still showing high prevalence of FGM/C among children, where the practice is still pervasive.
Keywords: epidemiology; maternal health; medical demography; systematic review.