The federal government of Nigeria is planning to carry out free surgery and laboratory services for all fistula patients in all Federal Teaching Hospitals and Federal Medical Centres in the country. This was announced by Nigeria’s health minister, Prof Isaac Adewole. The minister announced this while speaking at the National Stakeholders Meeting on Obstetric Fistula in Abuja.
Explaining the execution of the plan, Osarenoma Uwaifo, a Permanent Secretary in the ministry said that two NGOs, Engender Health and Fistula Care Plus would support all the facilities with consumables and supplies for the free surgeries.
Obstetric fistula is an abnormal opening between the vagina and bladder or rectum often caused by prolonged obstructed labour without prompt medical intervention. The condition results in an uncontrollable leakage of urine and feaces which causes social isolation of the women affected.
Speaking to journalists during the stakeholders meeting, Eugene Kongnyuy, Deputy Country Representative, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Nigeria, revealed that in 2003, the UN agency financially supported over 7,000 fistula surgeries and 900 vocational trainings in Nigeria.
Mr. Kongnyuy said the meeting would help participants deliberate on ways to reduce the backlog of fistula cases in Nigeria and reaching a consensus on actionable ways to end the condition by 2030 in line with global goals.
He also revealed that obstetric fistula was a key component of the recently approved 8th Country Document for Nigeria 2018 to 2021.
Highlighting the public health impact of Obstetric fistula, Mr. Kongnyuy said
“The persistence of obstetric fistula is an indication of inequality and the fact that the health systems are failing to protect the health and human rights of the poorest and most marginalised women.
“In the developed world we don’t have fistula anymore because most women have access to family planning; the health system is there to respond adequately to the problem.
“Women do not give birth outside health facilities,’’ he said.
According to him, when women are denied surgical interventions during child birth, they are likely to develop fistula.
He asked states across the country to be more proactive and implement programmes that would help reduce the health challenges of women by ensuring equitable coverage and timely access to health services.