The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has donated medical supplies to the Vesico Vagina Fistula (VVF) unit of the General Hospital, Calabar.
The Head of Office, UNFPA Cross River, Mr Kenneth Ehouzou, told Newsmen on Friday in Calabar that the donation was in line with UNFPA’s plan to make VVF rare in over 50 developing countries in the world.
Ehouzou said to achieve this, UNFPA got resources from donors to support countries grappling with the scourge.
He added that “we do not only donate drugs, we train surgeons and nurses and equip them with specific skills to conduct fistula repairs and also manage the patients to prevent recurrence and stigmatisation.
“We have done a lot of radio announcements to let the people know that VVF repairs are free of charge at the General Hospital, so we believe that the drugs and services provided at the General Hospital Calabar would be effectively used free of charge for fistula sufferers.
“Part of the donation include suture and consumables used by surgeons during repairs.”
The office head said UNFPA planned to sustain this by engaging government at all levels, gynaecologists, faith-based organisations and traditional birth attendants to have a budget for fistula repairs, support the reintegration of women who have been repaired and encourage women to deliver their babies in an approved health facility.
Ehouzou called on partners to come on board so that drugs were made available and women and girls were educated on ways to prevent VVF because Nigeria accounted for 20 per cent of the global cases of fistula with an average of 12,000 cases annually with only 2000 repaired annually.
The Cross River Commissioner for Health, Dr Inyang Asibong, who received the donation, thanked UNFPA and the Fistula Foundation for the support.
Asibong said that the programme targeted 150 repairs within a year and 23 women had been successfully repaired in a week.
The commissioner said “we are targeting 150 repairs within a year, we have already done 23 in a week and we are hoping to do more with the support of UNFPA and the Fistula Foundation.
“The whole process is free, so, we have our social workers in the field, bringing in women from all corners of the state who don’t know that the repairs are ongoing and are totally free, courtesy of the Cross River Government and its partners.
“We would continue these repairs when we are done with this set of 150 because we have a target of a fistula free society by 2030.”