ACANA Launches Project BAOBAB

he African Cultural Alliance of North America Inc. (ACANA) is partnering with the African Diaspora Health Initiative (ADHI) to conduct community-based outreach to at least 200 immigrant women resettled from sub-Saharan Africa in the Greater Philadelphia area. The program will also provide training and education for health care providers, conducted by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. Called Project BAOBAB, the program is federally funded for three years through the Office of Women’s Health, U. S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Through this program, women will learn about the adverse effects of female genital cutting/mutilation (FGC/M) on their reproductive and sexual life and their overall functioning. This information will help women to make decisions on whether to subject their daughters to such a procedure. They will have the opportunity to be part of a communitywide advocacy for abandoning the practice.

ACANA will advocate for protecting women who have experienced this practice. FGC/M includes the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other related injury for non-medical reasons. This practice is a fundamental human rights issue with adverse health and social implications.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC), states that Philadelphia ranks in the top 10 among other major U. S. cities, with about 16,500 females potentially at risk for FGC/M. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that more than 200 million girls and women alive today have had the procedure done in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

This project is involving eight organizations across the country, including the Nationalities Service Center also in the Philadelphia region.

By Nettie Johnson

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Eric Nzeribe