By Olayinka Latona
THE high burden of mortality and morbidity of various forms of fistula amongst Nigerian women has become soÂ worrisome that calls for urgent action to protect lives of those affected are being made.
Making one such call in Sokoto recently,Â Dr. Adamu Isah , a medical expert andÂ Country Deputy Director of The Acquire Project in Sokoto State,Â called for
Speaking during a media round table meant to promote awareness on VVF in Nigeria, Adamu saidÂ the fact that there are currently between 800,000 and one million cases of Vesico-Vaginal Fistula (VVF) with an additional 20,000 new cases yearly makes agitation for concerted measures to stem the tide.
Regretting that there were inadequate experts and facilities in the country to take care of those affected, thus posing a big challenge, he urgedÂ Federal government to swing into action and take VVF as a national issue and not leave it to the States alone.
Calling for a well-funded, specialised agency on VVF in the country, he said: â€œFistula is a national problem, because NigeriaÂ has about half of all fistula cases in the world. Therefore, Federal government should believe in it, becauseÂ I donâ€™t believe there is any state in this country that doesnâ€™t have a fistula patient.
â€œIn every State, there could be obstructed labour, bad health facilities and these are issues that brings about fistula.Â It shouldnâ€™t be only the state handling it independentlyâ€.
He opined that the predominace ofÂ fistula in the country is a clog against realisation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) if not tackled properly and on time.
Speaking further, he identified factors such as distance, late access to health care facilities during labour, early marriage, poor health care system and female genital mutilation as causative factors of VVF.
According to the expert,Â a high number of women with the condition were bound to experience emotional trauma, stigmatisation and divorce before the sixth month of their condition.
â€œMarriages have dissolved as a result of VVF most of them are divorce between the first six month of their experience, because their husband felt they canâ€™t condole or leave with them any longer and the next option is to sent them packing.
â€œThis divorce rate will continue to increase with time, because by the time fistula patient spent six months, you will not find 20 per cent of them maintaining their marriage. As a result of these factors, fistula patients will lose their dignity, unemployed and feel depressed and eventually wants to kill themselves.â€