Ending VVF in Nigeria as Luare Center saves 15,000 women from scourge
May 23, 2023
By Lizzy Okoji
Nigeria – With over One-hundred and fifty thousand cases of Vesical Vaginal Fistula in Nigeria, with an estimated twelve thousand new cases annually, according to a United Nations Population Fund (VVF) report, VVF remains a major concern to the well-being of women in Africa.
The prevalence rate of the condition continues to soar in Northern Nigeria, with the region accounting for 75 per cent of cases in the country.
VVF or Obstetric Fistula, also known as fistula, is a childbirth complication which leads to abnormal opening between the bladder and the vagina, causing continuous and unremitting urinary incontinence.
VVF is among the most distressing complications of gynecologic and obstetric procedures; however, it can be repaired through surgery.
Some common causes of VVF are obstructed or prolonged labour, lack of prompt access to medical care, and poverty in some cases, as well as unsafe obstetric or gynecological surgery.
The condition if left untreated leads to serious discomfort, cause serious bacterial infection, which may result to sepsis, a dangerous condition that can lead to low blood pressure, organ damage or even death.
The United Nations General Assembly in a bid to ending the scourge in 2013 declared May 23 as International Day to End Obstetric Fistula with a view to creating global awareness on the condition and to intensify actions toward eradicating the problem.
Championing the course in Nigeria, Laure VVF Centre at the Murtala Muhammad Specialist Hospital, Kano says it has successfully treated 15,000 fistula survivors in the state from 1987 till date.
Coordinator of the centre, Dr Amir Imam-Yola, disclosed this at the commemoration of the 2023 International Day to End Obstetric Fistula (IDEOF) with the theme, “20 years on – progress but not enough! Act now to end Fistula by 2030.’’
Imam-Yola, said that the centre provides activities such as fistula repair, advocacy, prevention of fistula activity, training, documentation and research opportunities.’’
He urged the state government to provide drugs and rehabilitation centre for fistula survivors.
Executive Director, Fistula Foundation Nigeria (FFN), Mr Isa Musa, said that obstetric fistula is a public health issue in Nigeria with the country having the largest burden of untreated women and girls.
“without treatment, fistula can severely impact a woman’s health and well-being.
“We have an estimated 332,000 women awaiting treatment, compounded by annual incidence of 13,000 new cases,” Musa said.
Musa called on the Kano State Government to make free fistula care services a priority, especially provision for training of additional indigenous doctors and nurses on surgical management of fistula.
He further urged the government to upgrade the Laure Fistula Centre with additional wards (bed capacity), saying that the centre initially had 48 beds but now left with only 10 beds.
He requested for the provision of equipment and other supplies to improve the physical, social and vocational aptitude of women affected with fistula.
Musa commended Prof Idris Suleiman of AKTH, Dr Amir Imam-Yola and the team for providing continuous fistula repair services at the centre.
Dr Zahra’u Muhammad-Umar, the Kano State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, said the state government had done a lot in the provision of welfare packages to survivors of fistula and in terms of their feeding, shelter, clothing and empowerment.
Maryam Adam, who spoke on behalf of the survivors, said she had been struggling and managing VVF for 12 years and had done 10 surgeries.
She said “my husband divorced me and married another woman, I have been going from one hospital to another in search
“Before, I pass urine and feaces uncontrollably, but now I only urinate at minimal level. There is improvement.
“I was also trained as a tailor, which helped me in getting medication and have remarried for two years despite my condition.
“I thank God and thank Fistula Foundation Nigeria,” Adam said
The campaign against VVF should however not be seen as a ceremonial event for just May 23 every year, but a campaign that would create awareness on the scourge for total elimination.
The Humanitarian Post