Hadiza Abubakar, wife of Bauchi state governor, has called on wives of state governors across the country to “rise to support” women living with vesico-vaginal fistula, VVF.
Speaking as VVF service providers met with policy makers and governor’s wives from across states in Abuja on Wednesday, Abubakar said wives of governors needed to help affected women confront trauma and stigma.
“We need to encourage our women to access the health facilities available so that there will be early detection and treatment of fistulas. One problem is that there is lack of early detection,” she said.
Rukayya Adamu, one of two women who gave testimony after going undergoing vvf repair surgery, has called for help to live her life to the fullest.
Her first and only pregnancy ran into trouble during childbirth. Her labour lasted three days—one at Nuhu Bamalli Hospital and two days unconscious at Murtala Mohammed Hospital, both in Kano.
But it was too late when doctors delivered her baby through a caesarean section: the newborn was dead and Adamu, yet to turn 19, developed fistula.
“The only assistance I need is to help my husband get work, so he can assist us get whatever we need without looking for help,” she says.
After two surgeries, she is yet to go completely dry she worries. But her husband Abubakar Ibrahim has been by her side all the way.
“I married her when she was okay, and now I can’t just abandon her because she has this problem,” he says.
Health minister Isaac Adewole, speaking through the ministry’s director of family health, Dr Wapada Balami, said the ministry was committed to clearing an existing backlog of thousands of VVF cases in need of surgical repair.
VVF is a condition in which prolonged obstructed labour ruptures a woman’s vaginal wall and creates a hole between it and the rectum or bladder—and it affects up to 12,000 women each year, according to the National Demographic Health Survey.
The prevalence of VVF, compared with only a handful of surgeons nationwide who can repair women with the condition, has ignited push for a national surgery policy targeting common surgeries that are often neglected.
“Things as simple as hernia, appendectomy, complications of abortions, fistula: these are common surgeries that don’t get the required attention, but they can lead to death if left alone,” said Dr Habib Sadauki, country director for Engender Health, which runs Fistula Care Plus, a project to provide treatment, care and rehabilitation for women with fistula.
He said the policy would provide guidelines to train and deploy surgeons and educate the public what to do about common ailments that are often neglected.
“If you put the policy in place, eventually you will get these surgeries really addressed. There are many things that people tend to ignore but they constitute the bulk of what we do on daily basis,” said Sadauki.
“The problem we have is people don’t come to hospital on time. They come in only as a last resort, and that is not the time to address issues. It is now done as emergency when you are not ready. Surgeries done electively are much safer than surgeries done in a rush.”
By: Judd-Leonard Okafor
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