By Philip Yatai
The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) says the demand for Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) services is increasing in Kaduna State.
Ms Mariana Darboe, the UNFPA Programme Coordinator and Head of Office, UNFPA Decentralised Office for Northern Nigeria, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kaduna on Wednesday.
Darboe said that the absence of timely medical treatment had led to dramatic increase in VVF, also known as obstetric fistula, an abnormal opening between the bladder and the vagina that results in continuous and unremitting urinary incontinence.
VVF is a serious childbirth injury resulting from prolonged, obstructed labour, among other causes, she said.
The coordinator added that the UNFPA made Hajiya Aisha-Ummi El-Rufa’i, wife of the Kaduna State Governor, a VVF Ambassador, along with other interventions to create visibility around response so as to yield the desired result.
She explained that fear, misinformation and stigma, among other factors, denied some women access to obstetric care in the state.
She, however, noted that with increased visibility around VVF response, more partnerships and more people talking about the condition and taking actions, more women would come out to seek for cure.
She explained that as a leader in the global campaign to end fistula, UNFPA had been providing funds and technical support for the prevention, treatment and social reintegration programmes for women and girls living with the condition.
She added that the UN body had also mobilised more response through partnerships with Fifth Chukker Polo and Country Club.
The head of office explained that the partnerships had helped in renovating a dedicated theatre for the VVF Centre located at Gambo Sawaba General Hospital, Zaria, Kaduna State.
According to her, ending fistula is at the heart of UNFPA’s mandate — gender inequality, child marriage, maternal mortality, adolescent pregnancy prevention, girls’ empowerment, which are all interlinked with fistula.
“We have continued to provide technical support and training to doctors to strengthen the VVF response, while the Kaduna State Government, through the Ministry of Human Services and Social Development increased funding for rehabilitation.
“The state government has increased its support to the response with increased funding through a budget line for the feeding and rehabilitation of survivors and empowering them with life skills.
“The survivors are being trained in self-sustaining skills like tailoring, knitting, liquid soap making, literacy and numeracy skills, among others, while we continue to provide technical support.
“We are also working toward mobilising other private sectors to come in and support the state in addressing the fistula challenge.” (NAN)