Govt, expert reveal how thousands of Nigerian women groan with fistula

Govt, expert reveal how thousands of Nigerian women groan with fistula

Govt, expert reveal how thousands of Nigerian women groan with fistula

Thousands of women (many of whom are very young) suffer from obstetric fistula in Nigeria, and have remained without care.

A professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Ibadan, Oladosun Ojengbede, and the country’s Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, joined other experts to reveal this in Abuja on Thursday August 2.

The experts, including diplomats and other government functionaries converge for a High-Level Fistula Awareness Seminar organized by the United National Population Fund, UNFPA. UNFPA is the leading non-governmental organization working on fistula across Nigeria.

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Addressing the gathering, Prof. Ojengbede said: ”In Nigeria, my colleague just gave us some figures. He believes that about 200 to 300 thousand already have fistula are waiting (for repair) Annually, an additional 12,000 is added to that. Currently in this country, we do about 4,000, less than 5,000 cases every year; all the centres put together. That means actually that there is a shortfall, every year, of about 7000.

He said most of the cases of fistula in the country arise from obstructed labour.

In his remarks, Prof Adewole said: “We’ve been told we have between 150,000 and 200,000 cases. We have additional 12,000 to 15,000 cases every year. We are only able to repair at best, maybe with all the improved surgeries, less than 4,000 (in a year) In other words, if we do nothing, we will never end fistula in Nigeria. Something must change. And, I think that is just the message.

“Two things, we must close the gap. In other words, we must stop new cases from occurring. How do we stop new cases from occurring? We want to educate families, society. We must really end child marriages, improve girl child education, empower our women and promote delivery in facilities.

“What is worrisome is that a number of our women deliver outside our facilities.”

Adewole added: “No woman must spend one day in labour. No woman. In fact, we should make it a rule that within 12 hours, by the time you are not delivered after 12 hours in labour, something is wrong. That should be the primary warning signal.

“No delivery should last more than 12 hours. Then, we begin to increase the number of people who are repairing this (fistula) We want to make sure that every of our tertiary health centre can offer repair. And, that is why we have decided to wave fees in all of our facilities. Repair of fistula is free.”

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