22 November 2015

Nigeria: Fistula Cases Should Get More Attention, Say Experts (II)

Though about 100,000 - 150, 000 women are affected by fistula in Nigeria, there are 12 new cases every year, early treatment and management would help.

However, experts urged government and lawmakers to make policies and programme that would help eradicate the health condition.

Zakariya said: "Government needs to do more by providing resources, necessary materials, equipment and facilities including manpower for treatment and prevention of fistula. It is a gender issue and those affected have been neglected for a very long time. Once a woman is affected, nobody would want to associate with her because of the offensive odour emitting from the person.

"Fistula is life shattering for the women, who experience it. It leaves a woman with chronic incontinence, which often results in social isolation. Other consequences may include frequent ulcers and infections, like Kidney disease, possible paralysis, and even premature death.

A Woman with obstetric fistula usually has a stillbirth, so she and her family also experience the loss of a child," he stated.

Survivor of traumatic fistula must endure the physiological trauma and stigma and may limit liquid and food intake to stem the symptoms, conditions that could further damage to the body. Fistula can also be caused by sexual violence like rape.

He said women, who suffer from fistula to know that their condition is preventable, no matter how long in isolation.

Meanwhile, a fistula Surgeon Dr. Amir Imam Yola of Laure Fistula Centre of the Murtala Mohammed Teaching Hospital, Kano said a major challenge for health workers is refusal of women treated of the condition to stay away from sex immediately after their treatment.

Yola pointed the necessity of such women abstaining from sex for a minimum of six months. He said the cause of prolonged obstructed labour may be the pelvic is small or head of the baby is too big.

"In my 20 years experience, I can say that treatment of fistula has 80 to 90 per cent success rate. In a week, we operate 12 to 15 clients conveniently, but when there is distraction, we might operate eight or nine patients a week. Most times, when you do surgery, you have repeated cases especially, when a fistula client has fibroid and does not allow the surgery to heal quick.

One of the clients, Mrs. Happy John, from Kaduna State, who spoke with journalists, said her problem started, when she had two days prolonged obstructed labour.

John said: "I have five children before this health problem and my five children are alive today. I thank God for the sponsor of this programme, though my family has been supporting me since the onset. The first time my family members brought me here, I was very scared of undergoing surgery. But today, I thank God that I came out successfully, now I feel better that before. When the sickness started, I felt pains in my back and waist, with difficulty in sitting down until I was brought to hospital.

My husband is very understanding as we are going to wait for six months before we can have sex again. I have been praying that God would help us to achieve this aim. I would encourage other women, who have the same problem to come forward for treatment."

Fistula Care Plus is a five-year cooperative agreement funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through September 2018.


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