Source: allAfrica

Kaduna — According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) about 50,000 to 100,000 women sustain obstetric fistula in the act of trying to bring forth new life annually while Nigeria accounts for 40 per cent of fistula cases worldwide; the Programme Director of Development Communications Network, Akin Jimoh has said.

As Nigeria commemorates the World Fistula Day, Jimoh lamented that fistula is the most devastating of all pregnancy-related disabilities; adding that, the ministry of health indicated that about 500,000 women in Nigeria are currently suffering from Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) in the country.

He mentioned in a statement that most fistulas are as a result of difficult childbirth and obstructed labour lasting more than 24 hours. "Nigeria records no fewer than 12,000 new cases of fistula annually as a result of complications in childbirth. Obstetric Fistula is a hole between the birth canal and bladder or rectum caused by prolonged, obstructed labour, without access to timely, high-quality medical treatment.

It leaves women leaking urine, faeces or both, and often leads to chronic medical problems, depression, social isolation and deepening poverty," he said.

He stressed the need for collective action to get appropriate treatment to avoid the needless debilitating conditions and death that could result from pregnancy and childbirth complications.

According to the Nigerian National Strategic Framework, 2008, about 6,000 fistula repairs are performed every year in Nigeria but more than 148,000 women are on the waiting list for surgery. It added that some of the VVF centers do not have enough beds or adequate electricity to operate.

He therefore urged government to increase the funding allocated to the health sector and implement provisions of various policies to address the needs of women and children. To end obstetric fistula in Nigeria, he also appealed to government to address all factors, from poverty to early childbearing, which predisposes women, especially the girl-child to this debilitating condition.

He further urged women to avail themselves with regular medical check up to prevent health complications, including fistula that could lead to death of mothers.

The annual International Day to End Fistula (IDEOF) was set aside by the United Nations, as a day to rally support and draw attention to activities targeting the elimination of fistula. According to UNFPA, the theme of this year's IDEOF, 'Hope, healing, and dignity for all' is a call to realize the fundamental human rights of all women and girls everywhere, with a special focus on those most left behind, excluded and shunned by the society.

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