by Friday Olokor
Nigeria currently has 150,000 women suffering from Obstetrics Fistula, a Non-Governmental Organisation, Engender Health, has revealed.
According to the body, the huge number is waiting to be given surgical operation, with 12,000 new cases recorded annually.
The Country Programme Manager of Fistula Care Plus Project, Dr. Habit Sadauki, stated this on Monday in Abuja. The occasion was the inauguration of the project by Engender Health.
Fistula is the occurrence of abnormal hole between the bladder or rectum and the vagina. It is characterised by the continuous and uncontrollable leakage of urine and/or faeces following childbirth.
Fistula Care Plus works in 10 states of the federation, supporting 10 fistula centres to carry out free surgical repairs for affected women.
Sadauki said, “We are at a critical time in Nigeria, where we can make even greater impact so that more women living with Fistula can be treated. We have an estimated number of 150,000 cases of Fistula in the country still waiting to be repaired. On an annual basis, we see about 12,000 new cases in the country.”
He said, Engender Health was only able to repair about 5,000 cases on annual basis in all the facilities it had worked during its seven-year programme, which ended last year.
He said, “The project has come again so that we can scale the number of cases that we are doing to, at least, reduce the backlog. Also, we want to address the preventive issues of Fistula. We also must help prevent Fistula from happening in the first place.
“One major thing that we want to introduce this time around is the categorisation of patients who have obstructed labour. Obstructed labour is the main cause of Fistula. And what we want to do is, if a patient has an obstruction, she should only be released for a period of seven to 10 days. That way, you can prevent the Fistula from occurring.
“We also want to encourage mothers to prepare for their birth and deliver in health facilities, where a professional will take their delivery and they will not go into obstruction. Through that way, you can prevent Fistula from happening. What we are doing is a collaboration and minimal support from USAID.”
Also speaking, the Director of Family Health, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Wapada Balami, said that through renewed efforts by the government and partners to address the reproductive and maternal health, the Fistula rate had been on a declining trend over the years.
Wapada, who was represented by the Head of the VVF branch in the FMoH, Dr. Binyeremi Ukaire, said there was a growing momentum to drastically reduce the incidence of Obstetric Fistula, by scaling up free repairs for VVF patients.
by Friday Olokor