Making health equity a reality through research, education, policy and practice
by Diane Nurse (PHE)
A specialised clinic offering care and support to women and girls who have experienced Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) was launched in Dublin during 2014. This service is the first of its kind in the country and is led by the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA), with the support of the HSE National Social Inclusion Office and AkiDwA - the Migrant Women’s Network.
FGM has been described by the World Health Organisation as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. The European Parliament resolution of 14 June 2012 on ending female genital mutilation confirmed this view and called on the Member States to take firm action to combat this illegal practice.
FGM has serious short and long-term health consequences, including harmful physical, psychological and emotional effects. Women and girls who have undergone the procedure have very specific health care needs and need access to specialist services and care that meet these needs.
The FGM clinic was established as one means of addressing these needs. The practice of FGM is estimated to affect more than 3,780 women and girls in Ireland between the ages of 15 and 45. As women and families from countries with high prevalence of FGM continue to migrate to Ireland, this number may be expected to increase. It is important that appropriate, responsive services at a primary care level are in place to provide necessary care and support to this cohort. Intervention at a primary care level will also facilitate reducing long term health implications.
The FGM service is based at the IFPA in Dublin city centre and offers high quality medical care and professional counselling. Women attending the clinic will also be offered wider sexual and reproductive health services, including contraception advice, cancer screening and menopause check-ups.
Cathedral Clinic – Primary Care for Migrants
The Cathedral Clinic provides General Practice medical services to migrant adults and children who have difficulty accessing medical care, including individuals with low / no income and those who are without or are ineligible for, a medical card. Services are provided free of charge.
The clinic commenced on 21st August 2013 and was set up and is staffed by two qualified doctors in their final year of General Practice Specialist Training at the North Dublin City GP Training Programme (NDCGP). It is overseen by Dr Austin O’ Carroll GP and trainers from the NDCGP. Crosscare hosts the service in its premises on Cathedral Street and provides reception support as well as assessment and advice for patients seeking entitlements.
The clinic forms part of the Safetynet Network and operates in partnership with a number of agencies including the NDCGP, Young People at Risk (YPAR) and Pavee Point.
The Cathedral Clinic is operational every Wednesday from 14:00 – 17:00 by appointment.
Suicide / Self Harm Crisis Centre
New Pieta House service recently opens in Ballymun and covers Dublin’s northside. The service is direct access and free.