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ARTICLE |

Uvulectomy

Benjamin H. Bonnlander, MD
JAMA. 1980;243(6):515. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03300320013009.
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To the Editor.—  Rubinstein (242:323, 1979) comments on the absence of the uvula in Bedouins. Uvulectomy has been practiced by many ethnic groups in Ethiopia. During two years at the School of Public Health in Gondar, Ethiopia, I observed the uniform absence of the uvula, which was felt to obstruct breathing or swallowing in infancy. The morbidity was high, and mortality was not uncommon, as seen in our clinics. Hemorrhage and sepsis were major problems.The Horn of Africa has been influenced by the Near East for several thousand years. The Amharic (Ethiopian) language is of Semitic origin, and traditional health practices along with religious and agricultural customs are believed to have crossed over at the southern tip of the Red Sea.Uvulectomy was believed by local health workers to be no more irrational in concept than a tonsillectomy in the West. The local population continues to practice the procedure

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