By Chioma Obinna
Abakaliki—With over 400,000 Nigerian women living with obstetric fistula, wife of Ebonyi State Governor, Mrs. Rachel Umahi, has urged them to take up the challenge of disseminating information on the debilitating condition.
According to statistics from the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, over two million women still live with the condition globally.
Obstetric Fistula is a hole between the vagina and rectum or bladder, caused by prolonged, obstructed labour, leaving a woman incontinent of urine or faeces or both.
Speaking at an event to mark the day in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, with the theme, Hope, Healing and Dignity for All, Umahi, who lamented challenges faced by victims, said: “We know how to do one thing, spreading of information, so we must take up the job of spreading the word on fistula prevention.”
Umahi urged women to go for regular medical check up to prevent health complications, including fistula.
She said: “Run for your life today and deliver only in hospitals to save yourself of fistula. All women, let’s take up this job and spread the word on fistula so that women can go out and get treatment.”
Country Programme Manager, USAID, Fistula Care Project, Chief Iyeme Efem, who noted that 12,000 new cases of fistula were recorded in Nigeria annually, argued that the welfare and well-being of women should not be dictated by backward cultural beliefs and myths.
Efem said Fistula had nothing to do with witch craft, stressing that it was entirely a result of complications in childbirth.
He further noted that educating the girl-child was key to eradicating the disorder and noted that N100, 000 only was required to treat a case.
Chief Medical Director, National Obstetrics Fistula Hospital, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, Prof. Sunday Adeoye, posited that it was only a combination of fistula repair and prevention of new cases that could end fistula in Nigeria.
Adeoye, who noted that Fistula cases were on the decline, said that as at May 22, 2017, a total of 2,337 surgeries and 640 prolapses had been carried out at the centre.
In his message to mark the Day, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, said ending fistula was of priority for UNFPA and a key to achieving the world’s Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, by 2030.
In the message delivered by the Programme Coordinator, United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, Mr. Kenneth Ehouzou, he noted that Nigeria had made progress in the elimination of obstetric Fistula. ‘’UNFPA has supported more than 85,000 fistula surgeries since 2003 and more than 15,000 cases in 2016 alone,’’ Osotimehin said.