By Justina Auta
The Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen, on Friday said that the Federal Government would conduct surgical repairs on anyone identified to be having Obstetric Fistula.
Tallen disclosed this during the joint ministerial press briefing in Abuja as part of activities to commemorate the international day to end Obstetric Fistula/VVF.
According to her, the catchment areas to begin are Gwagwalada, FCT and Adamawa for women and girls suffering from obstetric fistula.
She said that it was going to be in collaboration with the Ministries of Women Affairs and Health and other organisations.
The minister said that the alarming statistics and rising burden of obstetrics fistula among Nigerian Women was worrisome and unacceptable.
“There is a prevalence of 3.2 per 1000 birth with an estimated 13,000 new cases occurring annually,” she said.
She noted that over 5million women and girls were estimated to be living with unrepaired Vesico-Vaginal Fistula (VVF) in Africa and some part of Asian countries.
“In Nigeria, prevalence of Obstetric Fistula is 3.2 per 1000 birth and it was estimated that about 13,000 new cases occur annually, suggesting that the backlog of unrepaid case may take about 83 years to clear at the present rate of repair.
“Annually, an additional 50,000 to 100,000 new cases occur in the country. This alarming statistics and rising burden of Obstetric Fistula is worrisome and unacceptable,” she said.
The minister regretted that this had remained one of the devastating matter morbidity afflicting about one million women in Nigeria due to the existence of socio-cultural beliefs/practices, socio-economic state and poor health facilities.
“Many girls aged 11-15 in Nigeria become mothers either after early marriage to older men or through accidental pregnancy as a result of sexual intercourse with peers.
“Their small pelvic sizes cause most of these young girls to experience obstructed labour.
“Unskilled birth attendants simply cut through the vagina to create passage for the baby which results in vesico-vagina fistula, the leakage of urine and feaces through the vagina, causing women to become outcast by society,” she said.
The minister therefore called on all stakeholders, including religious bodies to join in the fight against early marriage and increase in school enrolment for girls, and seeking skilled birth attendants for delivery of babies.
Earlier, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said they 150,000 cases were recorded with 13,000 new cases of obstetric fistula annually.
Ehanire, represented by Dr Salma Kolo, Public Health Specialist in the ministry, said the figure was an indication of inequality, irresponsiveness and weak health system to protect women and girls.
Similarly, Country Representative of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Ms Ulla Mueller, said an estimated 500,000 cases was recorded globally with 150,000 cases in Nigeria, making it the highest cases in the world.
Mueller, while stressing the need for the media, development partners, CSOs and other stakeholders to join in preventing prevalence of obstetric fistula, reiterated their commitment towards improving sexual and reproductive health of women.
Also, Mr Harry Ogwuche, Director of Women and Children at the ministry, described Obstetric Fistula as a critical human rights violation that makes the victims vulnerable and stigmatised.
Similarly, Ladi Bala, National President, Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), encouraged the media to use various platforms towards encouraging girl-child education, women empowerment and eradication of early marriage. (NAN)