FG raises concern over prevalence of Fistula, slams quack doctors

· Health

The Federal Government has reiterated its resolve to check the increase in incidents of vesicovaginal fistula among Nigerian women and proffer ways to alleviate the pains of sufferers.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire gave the assurance in Abuja, during the rollout of a ‘Rehabilitation and Reintegration Project for women and girls themed: ‘Momentum Safe Surgery in Family Planning and Obstetrics 2022’.

Obstetric Fistula, a prevalent public health challenge occurs when a woman suffers trauma to the vagina, leading to rupture or tear and is unable to control her urine and subsequently suffers incontinence.

The healthcare challenge, which is often seen in underage mothers poses devastating maternal and child morbidities.

It is estimated that over 13,000 new cases occur annually among young girls and women, raising the urgent need to end the menace, the Minister of Health said.

Emphasising the need for adequate care for victims of fistula, stakeholders said all hope is not lost for women suffering from this medical disorder as there are opportunities for repair, rehabilitation
and reintegration.

The Minister who was represented by the Director and Head of the Family Health Department, Dr. Salma Ibrahim expressed grave concern overthe plight of affected women.

He frowned at the activities of quack doctors leading to the surge of the Fistula crisis in the country. 

“Sometimes, what we call the hydrogen fistula, happens during a cesarian section where medical doctors that are unqualified, some are even quack doctors, attempt to do cesarian section they end up creating a hole in the bladder and leads to leakage of urine or leakage of stool on the rectum.

“So this is far devastating to women and girls because you can imagine smelling urine and stool. So the first devastating thing is that they are abandoned by their partners or by their husbands.

“They are also abandoned by their immediate family members and most of these women are young girls and uneducated, they are not empowered because they are not working. They don’t have any source of income.

“What we aim to do is to work together with all our partners to ensure zero tolerance to Fistula in Nigeria.

Medical Coordinator, TEEN Ambassadors Foundation, Samuel Munza, observed that “some girls get married too early, 12, 13 years, we even have issues of nine years old getting married.

”Earlier you heard the opening address by the representative of the Minister for Health, where she mentioned the story of the 16-year-old woman who got married between the age of 9 to 13, and then the first time she had sexual intercourse was when she took in and ended up with fistula. 

“That means she has lived up to 50 years with that fistula. Of course, what happened was that she was thrown on the street of Kano and at the end of the day, she couldn’t seek help, imagine how long, this period of 50 years plus and she is only getting to find help just recently. So the problem is quite enormous,” he noted.

While pledging the Foundation’s resolve to help alleviate the suffering of the victims of Fistula, Munza said, “Our role here as TEEN Ambassador Foundation is that of providing educational services because we provide prevention services through educating the masses and as we told you, the teenage population is very important here, not just the teenage population but the women and girls generally.

In his remarks, Professor James Ayangunna from the University of Ibadan stressed the need for adequate provision for the rehabilitation and reintegration of the affected women into society after their surgeries.

He said, “we want to look at it from another perspective not necessarily from the surgery side. When doctors have done their own work, the surgeons, they’ve corrected it, they’ve done it, there must be
ways of rehabilitating these women and there must be ways of integrating them back into society. So that is what we are here for. 

“We know the doctors would have done a good job, they’ve corrected the fistula case but the woman would have to go back into the society, the society that has rejected her. How do we now do it?

“First, you rehabilitate and the second aspect is the reintegrating’ you reintegrate the women back to the society for proper social functioning so that they will be able to continue with their lives, that’s why we are here,” Professor Ayangunna said..

 

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