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Agony of 46-year-old Woman Living With Irreparable VVF , RVF

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Zuwaira Iliya, 46, sits quietly on her hospital bed with catheter showing from the side of her
wrapper as she slowly narrates her 30 years of struggle, living with continuous leakage of urine and faeces.

Iliya of Makarfi Village in Makarfi Local Government Area of Kaduna State has been grappling with Obstetric
Fistula but has kept hope alive in spite of what appears to be a hopeless situation.

She told a correspondent who was at the Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) Unit of
Gambo Sawaba General Hospital, Zaria in Kaduna State, on a special interview to mark the 2023 International
Day to End Obstetric Fistula (IDEOF) that she would be healed against all odds.

She had lived with VVF and Rectovaginal Fistula (RVF) for 30 years, as she contracted the
condition at the age of 16 after her marriage.

Iliya said that she became pregnant soon after her marriage but experienced prolonged labour during childbirth,
adding that she lost the baby and also developed both VVF and RVF in the process.

VVF or Obstetric Fistula, also known as fistula, is a childbirth complication which leads to abnormal opening between
the bladder and the vagina, causing continuous and unremitting urinary incontinence.

The condition is among the most distressing complications of gynecologic and obstetric procedures which can
cause discomfort, and if left untreated, it may lead to serious bacterial infection, which may result to sepsis, a
dangerous condition that can lead to low blood pressure, organ damage or even death.

Similarly, RVF is a communication between bladder and rectum, where faeces pass before getting to the anus, leading
to intermittent leakage of faeces into the vagina.

The development of these conditions, therefore, plunged the young Iliya into a life of agony, and for the past 30 years,
she said she had been struggling with depression, rejection, ridicule and abandonment.

She said “I was married off at the age 16, and immediately became pregnant. When it was time to deliver the baby,
I went into labour for three days.

“I was taken to the hospital for delivery but had a big cut to enable the baby to come out and that was how I developed
VVF and RVF.

“Thereafter, I was taken to a hospital in Kano, where I underwent surgery three times without success. And from
there, I was taken to another hospital in Jos, Plateau State but instead of performing a surgery, the doctor referred
me to this VVF Unit in Zaria.

“Here in Zaria, I was operated twice but still I continue to leak urine and faeces. Notwithstanding, I am still hopeful
that maybe, just maybe if I undergo another surgery, I will be healed.”

Describing her life as “a very sad one”, Iliya said that her husband divorced her in Kano because of the condition
and she returned to her parents’ house.

She added that while trying to get better when her parents took her to the hospital, her mother and father died, leaving her all alone.

She explained that “my life is a life of agony because I was with my mother here in the hospital when she became ill and died,
four days after my second surgery. I went to her burial with this catheter on me.

“And just when I was waiting for another surgery,  I received a message that my father was ill. I left the hospital to look after him
and he also died.”

However, in spite of the visibly hopeless situation, relentless Iliya said she would not give up, saying she hopes to get better and
one day give birth to a child.

She said “I have seen how some VVF survivors were operated on and were healed, went back home, became pregnant and
then returned to the hospital and delivered their babies through Caesarean Section (CS).

“This is why I am still hopeful that all is not lost and I have resolved to stay and get well so that maybe God will give me a child,” she said.

On her part, Hajiya Fatima Umar, the Head of the VVF Unit at the Gambo Sawaba General Hospital in Zaria, said there are
more than 20 irreparable fistula cases on the hospital list waiting for help.

Umar said some of the women have even made the hospital their homes, while others live in communities but maintain
contacts with the facility.

She added that “actually, the women have not been finding it easy staying in their environment or in their homes.
Sometimes if they come and they are examined, or if they hear that other doctors are coming from somewhere, they will come.

“If they come, the doctors will examine them. Even if the doctors say they can’t operate on them, they
will still come after a while because they are already comfortable with the hospital environment.

“They prefer to be in the hospital than their homes because nobody is rejecting them here.’’

Also, Dr Ado Zakari, the Fistula Surgeon and Consultant, Public Health Physician, said most of the irreparable
fistula cases were caused by quacks.

According to him, there is nothing doctors can do if the fistula is too wide, and the damage is extensive.

He said “there are situations where the damage becomes extensive and there is nothing we can
do because it is just the question of getting available tissue to repair.

“A situation where the entire tissue has been damaged, there is no way it can be repaired.

“This is because most quacks have no knowledge of anatomy; they operate anyhow. They take out everything,
even the bladder tissue and when you look at it, there is no way you can repair it.

“You cannot create any tissue anywhere and close the fistula. Fistula is a hole, it is a communication, and if it is so wide,
where will you get the tissue to repair it?.

“We have such cases; they are irreparable. We cannot repair them,” Zakari said.(NAN)

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Over 180,000 HIV Patients Accessing Free Life-saving Antiretroviral Treatment in Benue – Gov. Alia

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From Attah Ede, Makurdi 

Benue State Governor, Rev Fr. Hyacinth Alia, on Tuesday, said that over 180,000 people living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus(HIV), are accessing life-saving antiretroviral treatment (ART) across 264 public, private, and faith-based health facilities in the 23 local government areas of the state.

He noted that women living with HIV has giving birth to about 8,000 HIV-negative babies annually through the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) program for pregnant-positive women in the state.

 

Governor Alia who disclosed this while commissioning molecular laboratory at the federal medical centre Makurdi, said this was made possible by the support of US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

 

He lamented that the Nigeria AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS), 2018, shown Benue State has an HIV prevalence of 4.3%, the second-highest in Nigeria thereby placing Benue on the path to HIV epidemic control.

The Governor noted that in the past two decades, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC), Nigeria has supported the Benue state government with funding from the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through APIN Public Health Initiatives and other implementing partners to respond to the HIV epidemic. 

According to him, “the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) program for pregnant-positive women in the state has made it possible for the birth of about 8,000 HIV-negative babies annually by women living with HIV providing a window of hope for an HIV-free generation. 

“This strong partnership between the government and PEPFAR has turned the tide against the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the state. HIV/AIDS which was before now a major cause of death with significant socioeconomic impacts in communities has been transformed into a managed chronic disease with Benue at the threshold of meeting the global target of ending the HIV epidemic by 2030. 

“The program deployed and installed information technology equipment to capacitate 65 high-volume treatment sites, 22 supported community-based organizations, the state Ministry of Health, and the State Agency for HIV/AIDS Control to participate in weekly telemedicine/teleconferencing led by the Federal Ministry of Health to improve the skills of healthcare providers to manage a range of chronic medical conditions including HIV/AIDS”, the Governor stated.

Governor Alia commended APIN Public Health Initiatives, US CDC, PEPFAR and all partners involved in bringing this project to fruition and appreciated the past and present leadership of the Federal Medical Center, Makurdi for providing the infrastructure for the placement of molecular laboratory equipment. 

He assured that his administration remain committed to leaving no one behind in the pursuit of health equity and justice and would continuously harness the power of science, innovation and compassion to build a brighter tomorrow for generations to come. 

Governor Alia further reiterated his government’s commitment to sustaining the HIV response in the state through the financing of the HIV response, public health infrastructural development and support for PLWHIV, Children orphaned and made vulnerable by HIV and other vulnerable populations for improved quality of life.

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Radda Releases N10bn to 34 LGAs for Health Centres

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Katsina State Governor, Dikko Radda has released over N10 billion to chairmen of the 34 local government areas of the state to build primary health centres.

The governor said this during an interactive session with journalists on Monday in Katsina, saying that three primary health centres would be constructed in each council area.

He added that “when I became the governor, I talked about the World Health Organisation’s resolution on the need to have functional primary health centres in rural areas that can work 24 hours.

“The aim is to reduce child and maternal mortality and other difficulties faced by rural people whenever they are sick.

“If we have functional healthcare facilities in rural areas, even a woman in labour can be attended to by a professional health worker at any time.

“And if there is a need to take her to a secondary healthcare facility, the centre should have an ambulance that can convey her there.”

According to him, there should also be accommodation for health workers, enough drugs, constant/potable water, and electricity supply, among others.

Radda revealed that the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) would provide those institutions with running costs, from N250,000 to N400,000.

“This fund is enough for the running of daily activities of the centres. But we cannot benefit from the fund until we have fully functional healthcare centres.

“If we have functional primary health centres in rural areas, it will assist in decongesting hospitals in urban areas, and the health level of the people will improve.

“The only challenge we are going to face is staffing, because we have shortages of staff to man these centres. To recruit health workers is not easy now, but we will do that in due course.

“However, we have over 5,000 casual staff and if we were to confirm them, their salaries would double that of the over 7,000 teachers recently recruited.

“This is because the salary of some health workers is almost triple that of teachers.

“That’s the challenge now, but in spite of that, we will recruit health workers in due course.

“Before the end of the year, we’ll make sure that no fewer than 361 functional primary health care centres are provided in the state.”

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FCTA Begins Free Antenatal Registration, Care for Pregnant Women

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By Laide Akinboade, Abuja

In continuation of the one year anniversary celebration of President Bola Tinubu, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), on Monday, unveiled one year free health insurance, antenatal care for pregnant Women.

This initiative was unveiled by the Mandate Secretary, FCTA’s Health Services and Environment Secretariat, Dr Adedolapo Fasawe when she visited the Paramount Ruler, the Gomo of Kuje, Alhaji Haruna Jibrin.

Fasawe disclosed that the initiative, coming as Renewed Hope Free Medical Outreach, was designed for the poorest of the poor in rural communities.

The Mandate Secretary, who was in the Palace of the Paramount Ruler and the Council’s Secretariat to sensitize the people for the outreach billed for Wednesday, warned that privileged people shouldn’t hijack the outreach, but allow the vulnerable residents to benefit from the initiative.

She noted that besides giving pregnant women one year insurance, there will also be free eye, dental and other health services, while also providing minor surgery for the people.

Fasawe also warned that the administration would not allow advantaged people to hijack the free services, saying it is exclusively for the less privileged people.

She said, “We are going to be giving free medical care, eye care, minor surgery and dental care.

“Pregnant women and the children will get free insurance for one year. Let not the privileged people deny the less privileged people.

“Let those who can afford the care allow the poor to get free care. We don’t want chairman’s candidates, we want the poorest of the poor. Register all pregnant women for free antenatal”.

Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary of the Secretariat, Dr Babagana Adams has called on the council officials to mobilize the people who need the services to come out in mass.

Adams, also did not caution that there should not be ethnic nor religious discrimination as the initiative was designed to serve all.

Earlier in his remarks, the Gomo of Kuje, Alhaji Haruna Jibrin, while lauding the initiative also pledged to support the outreach.

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