FG lauds ActionAid’s N51m worth VVF centre

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By Justina Auta

The Federal Ministries of Women Affairs, Health and Social Welfare have commended the inauguration of ActionAid’s first Vesico -Vaginal Fistula (VVF) Centre, worth N51.5 million in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the centre was established by ActionAid Nigeria (AAN) in collaboration with Gwarinpa General Hospital.

Mrs Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, Minister of Women Affairs, while commending ActionAid on Thursday in Abuja., said the initiative would help women and the country to address VVF.

Kennedy-Ohanenye urged the medical personnel to make good use of the facility to curb VVF, adding that there was need to carry out more sensitisation to tackle the menace.

“I am assuring all Nigerians that the ministry of women affairs, the ministry of health and ECOWAS have a huge plan this year to make sure that all fistula patients get treated this year.

“We are equally asking the doctors that are into these surgeries to volunteer themselves to help Nigerians. It is time they start to enjoy the fruits of their country’s labour.

“For this to happen, all hands must be on deck, everybody must show love like ActionAid did,” she said.

Also, Prof. Muhammad Pate, Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, said the VVF centre was a landmark toward providing critical care and support for women and girls.

Pate, represented by Lawrence Anyanwu, Director and Head of Reproductive Health Division of the Ministry, noted the rising incidences of obstetric fistula in the country, adding that establishment and proper management of more fistula centres were highly imperative.

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“This, therefore, makes the launch of this centre today a very important milestone in our quest to control incidences of debilitating conditions and ensure that those who are affected are treated, rehabilitated and re-integrated back into the society.

“This is a task that the government alone cannot handle hence, there have been solicitations of support from various stakeholders for a lot more to be done,” he said.

Also, Andrew Mamedu, Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria, said an estimated two million women were living with unrepaired VVF, and between 50,000 new cases emerging annually in Nigeria.

Mamedu said that out of this number, only 3,000 were fortunate enough to be attended to each year.

According to him, Nigeria ranking third globally in child marriage rates, bears witness to consequences of disrupted education, increased vulnerability to violence, an opportunities for personal fulfilment.

He said in spite of this staggering burden, access to comprehensive VVF services remained inadequate.

He added that with only 18 government’s approved VVF centres nationwide and none in the FCT until the intervention by ActionAid, countless women have suffered in silence, their agony exacerbated by prolonged waits and inadequate care.

“The inauguration of the 20-bed wards at Gwarinpa Medical Centre signifies not only the completion of a construction project but a tangible commitment to breaking the cycle of early marriage and VVF in the Federal Capital Territory.

“The Ending Child Marriage Project, collaboration between ActionAid Nigeria and Gwarinpa Hospital with funding support from ActionAid Italy represents a beacon of hope in this battle.

“The aim is not only to provide essential healthcare services but to also address the root causes of VVF by empowering women and girls to express their rights, informed choices, and shape their own destinies,” he said.

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Moriamo Shaibu, The Medical Director of Gwarinpa General Hospital, said over 80 per cent of the cases of patients who developed fistula in Abuja previously did not know where to access care.

Shaibu said they were usually referred to Jos, Bauchi, Katsina and other centres.

She said that there were about 19 centres and this is the 20th centre now in Nigeria and the only one in Federal Capital Territory.

According to her, there are only two specialised Fistula surgeons in Abuja and  named them to be Dr Idris Saad-with over 30 years’ experience; and Dr Halima Bello with over 10 years’ experience. (NAN)

Edited by Ifeyinwa Okonkwo and Abiemwense Moru

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