Activity Week 6 – Determinants of Health in Sierra Leone- Zeinab Mroue

After reading about the social determinants of health and everything that it entails. I was able to get a wider view of how much everything about your surroundings affects your health and access to different things such as adequate care. I knew before hand that all of this, effects things to an extent, but not really to this degree. I think that with all of the research that I have done for this class about the country that i am focusing on, Sierra Leone, I feel so much more informed about everything in detail. Especially that even if something is supposed to be upheld by the law, it is not always taken into practice because of the resources, or lack there of. As well as social norms and societal pressures and social policies. I will elaborate further in my post.

The one thing that I am talking about is female gentile mutilation. In Sierra Leone, especially in rural areas, FGM is still happening to young girls and women. FGM is the cutting or the destruction of female genitalia, often done out of old practices, and never done for medical purposes. Female genital mutilation, as an international whole, is widely considered a human rights violation. The act of FGM is done for many reasons. First, FGM is often performed at the choice of certain members of the family. It involves cutting off part of, or sometimes the entire clitoris. FGM is practiced using very non hygienic practices, with either a rusted blade and in some cases, a very sharp rock, and sometimes multiple girls would get cut using the same blade, making transfer and risk of infections extremely high (WHO). This practice is carried out mainly in rural areas because people think that this is a rite of passage into womanhood, and done to suppress a woman’s sexuality. And sometimes its done because of supposed aesthetic reasons. FGM has very many harmful health effects. First off, because FGM is usually done in rural areas with old or rusty razors or scissors, the chance of infection is extremely high (mercy health). Also, the cutting can lead to women bleeding to death. The long term effects include a higher chance of more common UTI’s, the risk of bleeding out during childbirth, infection in the genital area, decreased sex drive, painful intercourse, among a multitude of other complications.

This is where the social determinants of health come in. Because, as i have stated above, FGM is done more commonly in rural areas, the women who are born into families who live there have no control over it. Also, if and when the complications from this procedure happen, proper health care and treatment is not always readily available. One other social determinant of health in this case would be social norms. FGM keeps occurring in places that the practice has been going on for such a long time, and often times when things become so normalized, the harmful affects are often overlooked. In contrast to these dark matters, Sierra Leone has made progressive moves to help make an end to femalecircumcision throughout the entire country (sigma


“Female Genital Mutilation.” WHO. Web. 14 Aug. 2015.

“Female Genital Mutliation.” Mercy Health. 2008. Web. 14 Aug. 2015.

“Sierra Leone’s on Track to Ban Female Genital Mutilation | News.” Sierra Leone’s on Track to Ban Female Genital Mutilation | News. Web. 14 Aug. 2015.

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