BY VICTOR OKEKE, Abuja
With a backlog of over 200,000 women living with fistula and 12,000 new cases occurring every year, Teaching Hospitals in Nigeria are to begin a programme of free treatment of Vesicovaginal fistula (VVF).
Engender Health Nigeria Country Project Manager for the USAID-funded Fistula Care Plus (FC+) project, Chief Iyeme Efem told newsmen in Abuja that the Minister of Health, Professor Professor Isaac Adewole has given his approval for the programme in order to tackle the mounting backlog of women living with fistula in the country.
“One strategy we introduced to the honourable Minister of Health which he has signed is that we should expand the pool of number of centres that are conducting fistula repairs.”
“The Minister said that the skills are resident in the Teaching Hospitals and he has signed a memo to all the teaching hospitals waiving the fees for fistula repairs. He has waived fees for registration, and bed space and so on. We will support them by providing consumables,” Efem said.
At the moment, EngenderHealth operates 13 fistula centres in 12 states across Nigeria.
According to analysis from EngenderHealth, there 49 Teaching Hospitals, if each of them does 15 repairs every month, then Nigeria is looking at 735 repairs done in a month by all the Teaching Hospitals and that would add up to 8,830 repairs in one year.
Then if you add that 8830 repairs in a year plus the 2,000 Engender Health is doing, it will amount to 10,000 repairs, plus the additional 2000 development partners are doing; this will total over 12,000 repairs. This would mean that the 12,000 yearly new cases would have been tackled but still, the backlogs still remain untouched.
Efem added that the organisation will meet with the heads of these different hospitals to roll out the free treatments starting January 2018.
He charged pregnant women to go for antenatal care and ensure they deliver under a trained healthcare provider. “For the healthcare providers, once labour is more than a certain number of hours (12 to 18 hours) refer to the patient to the next level so that they take care of that woman.”
An obstetric fistula is a hole between the vagina and the rectum or bladder that is caused by prolonged obstructed labour, leaving a woman incontinent of urine or faeces or both.