African Women's Health Center

The African Women's Health Center (AWHC) is located at the Brigham and Women's Hospital which is a Harvard Affiliated Hospital. The overall mission of the AWHC is to holistically improve the health of refugee and immigrant women who have undergone female genital cutting. It provides access, understanding and community to women who have long-term complications from this tradition and who seek reproductive health care.

Women who have undergone female genital cutting worry that practitioners lack the experience to provide quality care. They have expressed dissatisfaction with their care. Practitioners, on the other hand, request skills necessary to approach and care for these patients. The fears these patients voice and the concerns that providers express are similar nationwide.

The AWHC provides culturally and linguistically appropriate obstetric, gynecologic and reproductive health care to African immigrants and refugees. It is the first and only African health practice in the United States that focuses on issues regarding female genital cutting. Founded in July 1999, the AWHC predominantly cares for patients who are from Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia and Nigeria. Approximately ninety percent of these women have been circumcised. Defibulation procedures (plastic reconstruction of the scar) are routinely performed.

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Dr. Nawal Nour describes how the efforts of her father to halt female circumcision in the Sudan inspired her to found the African Women’s Health Center (video: 1:02:42).

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