Nurse wins award for app that tackles female genital mutilation

Joanne McEwan’s iPad app helps healthcare professionals to enquire sensitively about the issue.
Lugain Althamy & Joanne McEwan

A public health nurse has won an award for developing an iPad app to help healthcare professionals tackle female genital mutilation (FGM).

App creator Joanne McEwan (right) shows the resource to anti-FGM campaigner Lugain Altohamy. Picture: David Fleming

The Let’s Talk FGM app, designed by Joanne McEwan from Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, won the digital health category of the London Design Awards.

Ms McEwan said: ‘I wanted to produce something that could help staff enquire sensitively about this issue, and could equip them to talk constructively with families and survivors from many different backgrounds and cultures.’

Swift development

The app was developed and launched in 12 months, using funding provided by the Mary Seacole leadership award that Ms McEwan won last year.

The resource includes information on why FGM occurs, related legal issues, and how to protect children.

It also features video interviews with FGM survivors, campaigners and healthcare professionals, which are available in six languages – English, Somali, Swahili, Arabic, Tigrinya and Mandinka.

Number of cases

In July, NHS Digital published its first ever FGM statistics, which revealed 5,700 newly recorded cases in England during 2015-16.

It also showed that 5-9 years was the most common age range at which FGM was undertaken.

Group effort

Ms McEwan worked with the company White October to develop the app, and obtained content with the help of campaign group Oxford Against Cutting and staff from her trust.

She added: ‘Women and girls from communities where FGM might be practised deserve protection, just like anyone else at risk of abuse or violence.’

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