By Laide Akinboade
The Federal Government has revealed that over 150,000 Nigerian women live with untreated fistula while the nation records an annual incidence of 12,000 -15,000 cases.
The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole stated this at a High level awareness seminar on fistula, in Abuja.
He said Nigeria contributes 15 percent to the global burden of the obstetric fistula.
The minister therefore called for stronger awareness towards the elimination of Obstetric Fistula (OF) in Nigeria, adding that it would reduce the rate of maternal mortality.
According to him, “Obstetric Fistula is a devastating childbirth injury which leads to both physical and social harm for women. Women who experience obstetric fistula suffer constant incontinence, shame, social segregation and health problems.
“The development of obstetric fistula is directly linked to one of the major causes of maternal mortality; obstructed labour. It is estimated that more than 2 million young women live with untreated obstetric fistula in Asia and Sub- Saharan Africa,’’ he added.
Adewole noted that in Nigeria, the most common cause of Obstetric Fistula is prolonged obstructed labour due to limited access to emergency obstetric care.
“Unfortunately, only 38 percent of deliveries in Nigeria are supervised by Skilled Birth Attendants (SBAs). Socio- cultural practices including early marriage and early childbirth before the pelvis is fully developed also contribute significantly,” he added.
The minister also said that according to a 2017 report by UNICEF, ‘’43 percent of Nigerian girls are married off before their 18thbirthday, while 17 percent are married before they turn 15. The North Eastern and North Western Geo- Political Zones have the highest number of case.
“An estimated 150,000 women and girls are living with untreated fistula in Nigeria, with an annual incidence of 12,000 -15, 000 cases, approximately, the country contributes 15 percent to the global burden of the obstetric fistula.’’
The minister further said that it is estimated that the unmet need for the treatment of OFs could be as high as 98 percent in Nigeria, with less than 3,000 fistula repairs done annually (NSF 2018).
“It is also estimated that about 2,000 fistula repairs annually (NSF 2018- 2022) and 10,000 clients are added annually to subsequent years new cases,’’ he added.
Adewole urged partners to join the fight against the scourge of fistula in the society, adding that FG would continue to play a leading role in setting the agenda.
In his remarks, the UNFPA, Acting Country Representative in Nigeria, Eugene Kongnyuy, said that there was need to create more awareness on OFs in Nigeria.
He further said that focus should be on improving Girl- Child Education, Child spacing, Gender trust and people showing more compassion.