Nigeria Records 12,000 VVF Cases Annually, Says UNFPA

Mrs Erika Goldson

 

 

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) says over 12,000 new cases of Vesico Vaginal Fistula are recorded annually in Nigeria.

UNFPA Deputy Representative, Mrs Erika Goldson, disclosed this at a high-level conference on obstetric fistula organised by the Kaduna State Ministry of Health on Saturday.

She added that an estimated 150,000 young women and girls in the country are living with the ailment untreated.

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Goldson attributed the alarming figure to the ineffectiveness of the Nigerian health systems to provide universal access to emergency obstetric care for women and girls who develop complications during labour.

She noted that this is compounded by cultural preferences and community ignorance of risks in-home deliveries and called for more investment in the prevention of new cases and treatment of existing ones.

The UNFPA deputy representative revealed that Nigeria accounts for about 7.5 per cent of the global fistula burden, a figure she said was totally unacceptable.

According to the global body, obstetric fistula is preventable and can largely be avoided by delaying pregnancy, ensuring skilled birth attendants during child delivery, and providing timely access to obstetric care for all women who develop complications during childbirth.

It is estimated that between 400,000 and 800,000 women live with VVF in Nigeria, a medical condition that allows for the continuous and involuntary discharge of urine and faeces by the victim.

In addition, there are thousands of new cases recorded each year, with Kaduna State alone accounting for 12,000 existing cases in the country.

Wife of the state governor, Mrs Aisha El-Rufai, who was also at the conference advocated for strong legislation that would protect VVF victims from discrimination by their families and the society.

On her part, the Commissioner of Human Services and Social Development, Hafsat Baba, spoke about the purpose of the conference.

She explained that it was organised to raise awareness about the tragic childbirth injuries that incapacitates thousands of mainly poor and uneducated young adolescents who live in rural areas with poor access to quality maternal healthcare.

Other speakers at the event highlighted various ways of ending the pain, healing wounds, and restoring the dignity of VVF victims and called for concerted action.

At Least 300 VVF Patients Receive Free Surgery In Niger State

Wife of the state governor, Dr Amina Bello and a mediacal doctor

 

At least 300 women who suffer from Vesicovaginal Fistula (VVF) in Niger State have received free surgeries.

The free surgery initiative is led by the wife of the state governor, Dr Amina Bello.

The Stigma

While the state government says it is making efforts to reach out to as many victims as possible, Mrs Bello says many of them hide away because of fear of being stigmatized.

She told journalists in the state that, “One of the most significant challenges is that we are not able to access a lot of the women who have it.

“We actually go into the villages to look for them but a lot of them are hiding because this is a problem where women are stigmatized, they hide away from society so getting the women to come out is one challenge”.

VVF is a condition in which a woman is unable to control the passage of urine caused by an extension between the bladder and the vagina.

Medical experts identified prolonged labour as one of the causes of the condition and also lack of access to basic healthcare facilities especially in rural areas.

Early Marriage

Another major cause is the early marriage of girls mostly forced out of school either due to poverty, religious or cultural beliefs.

The government, however, says it is addressing the challenges.

The Commissioner for Health in the state, Dr Mustapha Jibril, noted that the government’s key focus is on the revitalization of primary health care systems among other things.

He said, “The governor of Niger State has taken primarily the revitalization of healthcare systems as his major focus and what we have been trying to do is to increase the number of what we refer to as skilled birth attendants.”

The Commissioner for Education in the state, Fatima Madugu, also noted that the government is addressing the issue of early girl child marriage through a school enrollment drive.

Justice For Ochanya

More activists across the country have continued to call for the education of the girl child to avoid instances where they are forced into early marriages or situations that expose them to the risk of sexual violence.

The calls have been intensified in the past few weeks following the case of a 13-year-old girl, Ochanya Ogbanje, who died after complications from VVF.

She was said have been raped continuously for three years by her uncle who was a lecturer at the Benue State Polytechnic, Andrew Ogbuja, as well as his son.

Some of her family members who spoke to Channels Television raised the issue of poor quality of education, noting that the need to access proper education was part of what led to her leaving the community in the first place to live with the relatives.

Ochanya was buried on Friday at her hometown, Ogene Amejo, Okpokwu Local Government Area of Benue State, amidst tears and grief.

The family, as well as the National Council Of Women Society, have continued to call for justice for the victim.

Ochanya’s Death: Court Remands Lecturer Accused Of Raping 13-Year-Old In Prison

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A Makurdi Chief Magistrate court has remanded Mr Andrew Ogbuja, the lecturer accused of repeatedly raping a 13-year-old minor, Miss Ochanya Ogbanje, in prison till November 29.

Chief Magistrate Isaac Ajim made the remand order on Thursday when he declined to entertain the matter for lack of jurisdiction to hear the charge of criminal conspiracy and culpable homicide preferred against the accused by the Nigerian Police.

The 13-year-old died on October 17 due to Vesico Vagina Fistula (VVF) complications as a result of her ordeal, sparking outrage and calls for those responsible to be brought to justice.

The girl who is said to be a cousin of the lecturer’s wife was allegedly raped by the lecturer for the three years she lived with them.

She was a Junior Secondary School 1 student of the Federal Government College, Gboko, Benue State, at the time of her death.

Meanwhile, the family of late Ochanya Ogbanje and the National Council Of Women Society have sustained their call for justice for the victim.

VVF: Kano Govt. Advocates Improved Health Care For Girl Child

kano, Ganduje, Youth empowerment,In addition to improving health care facilities especially in rural areas, the Kano state government has revealed plans to eradicate the menace of VesicoVaginal Fistula (VVF).

The Governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, expressed worry over the increase in number of reported VVF cases in the state.

While receiving a UN delegation on Population Fund Agency, he said his administration has so far trained over 1,000 traditional birth attendants who have been posted to various rural areas across the 44 local government areas of the state, to oversee issues relating to pregnancy in local areas of the state.

According to the governor, increasing population coupled with limited resources at the disposal of government agencies, have partly contributed to the disease becaming too hard to control especially in northern Nigeria.

“We are lucky to be the most populous nation in Nigeria but the results were an increas in health related issues which were perhaps associated to even the most productive populated communities of the world.

“This notwithstanding cannot deter us from doing what needs to be done to ensure the health of our mothers.”

Ganduje said in addition to various enlightenment programmes, government may form a legislation that would regulate early marriage in line with Islamic teaching.

“Because of the increasing number of liability population which is termed responsible for the increasing reported cases of VVF, we will have to provide a more justifiable framework in line with the religion of Islam. governor Ganduje said.

Meanwhile the Executive Director Of The United Nation Population Fund, Mr Babatunde Osetumehin, says that VVF has always been as a result of failed systems.

“A girl has to be marriage ready before she gives birth because when she gets pregnant without being ready, she ends up with fistula and that is what the UN population fund seeks to address in Nigeria especially in the north of the country”.

Osetumehin who told the governor that he was in Kano to graduate 25 survivors of VVF, also assured Ganduje that the UN would continue to collaborate with sister agencies and government institutions across the world to ensure that girl child education is given more priority at all levels.

“You want to eradicate VVF? You educate girl child, if you educate the girl child, I tell you, we will never record any incident of VVF in our country and this is a task we must do, a task we most honor and respect at all cost.”

The Minister of Women And Social Development Aisha Alhasan, however believes that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, has since inception, paid a considerable amount of attention to women and children health related issues.

How Niger State Succours Women And Girls In Recession

Niger State, Women, GirlsThe increasing rate of poverty and unemployment have become worrisome for the Niger State government, especially in the face of Nigeria’s economic recession.

One the efforts being made by the State government to aid its people in this trying time is an empowerment programme to train 250 women and girls in making of soap, cosmetics, air freshener, perfume and fish farming among others.

The scheme, which was initiated by the Niger State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, was flagged off on Tuesday in Minna by wife of the State Governor, Dr. Amina Bello.

Dr. Bello said the programme was a deliberate strategy for poverty alleviation in the state and stressed the need to be financially and economically independent.

She urged the beneficiaries to pay more attention to the whole exercise to enabled them have the prerequisite knowledge for effective and efficient productivity when they are on their own.

The governor’s wife also assured them that she would sustain her programme on the treatment of every women infected with VVF in Niger State to better their lives.

In her welcome address, the Commissioner of Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs Roseline Abara, urged the beneficiaries to make judicious use of the opportunity given to them.

Mrs Abara explained that training was aimed at making them self-reliant in their homes, adding that the beneficiaries would be provided with the necessary requirements to start with after their training.

On her part, the Permanent Secretary at the ministry, Princess Rachel Yisa, disclosed that the programme cut across all the 25 local governments in the state.

She also urged the trainees to choose centres designated in each of the senatorial zones nearest to them to ease transportation.

Women In Niger With VVF Get Free Surgery

vvfThe wife of the Niger State Governor, Dr. Amina Sani Bello, has conducted a free surgical camp for women with Vesicovaginal Fistula (VVF) in the state.

The camp, which has about 20 women with the condition from across Niger State, is aimed at improving the maternal health of women in the state.

The women were operated on free by the Governor’s wife and VVF surgeons who were drawn from Katsina and Kano states.

Speaking to journalist at the General Hospital, Kontagora, Dr. Bello said that the aim was to proffer treatment to the women who had VVF and had no money to treat them surgically, adding that curing them from the ailment would give them a better life.

According to her, “VVF is a terrible condition which usually affects women in the poor areas and because they are poor, it is difficult to get treatment.

“What we have done in collaboration with Sani Bello Foundation and Niger State Government, is to call Fistula surgeons who are experts in treating the diseases surgically, so that those affected can have the surgery free and be integrated back into the society.”

Bello further said that she was planning to open a VVF centre in Niger State to address the backlog of women with VVF who have not been treated.

She debunked myths that VVF is affected by teenage pregnancy and early motherhood, saying that all those that registered for the camp were above 30 years.

“This condition is not just in a situation where it is teenage pregnancy. It happens in a situation of the kind of healthcare that the expecting mother gets,” she said.

The Governor’s wife called on the government to improve the healthcare system, to enable the women get access to ante-natal care and skilled birth attendants.

“We are trying to see how the government will ensure that our healthcare centres are able to provide 24-hour care in each ward. This will go a long way in ensuring that women who are pregnant will have skilled birth attendants to attend to them.”

One of the Surgeons, Dr. Kabiru Abubakar, called on the government to employ more skilled doctors who can perform Caesarean operations and also improve infrastructures.