Recently Guguru FM was invited by 4th Brain Entertainment to witness the shooting of a new movie production titled Endless Tears which hovers around the medical condition called Vesicovaginal Fistula popularly known as VVF.
It brought to mind the danger it portends for girls who get married in their early teens, rape victims etc. Guguru FM got this report written by prolific writer Winifred Ogbebo which was published in the Leadership Newspaper, March 3rd, 2014.
Think about VVF and how you can help combat it.
Combating The Menace Of VVF
By Winifred Ogbebo — Mar 3, 2014
Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) has social, economic, and religious implications as many women with the condition are regarded as social outcasts with marriages reportedly dissolved as a result of this. In this piece, Muazu Elazeh examines efforts at combating the menace.
Mallama Hadiza Tanko, 35, (not real name) suffered from Vesico vaginal fistula (VVF) disease as she passed out urine, sometimes uncontrollably as a result of which friends and neighbours deserted her because of the smell that accompanied her wherever she went.
“It got so worse that I confined myself to staying at home and resented mingling with even my closest family members as I feared that when I got close to them they would complain of the smell,” Mallama Tanko enthused, with a forlorn face.
Narrating her ordeal further, the mother of three said she was divorced by her beloved husband who ordered her out of her matrimonial home “on the grounds that he could not bear my condition any longer.”
Hadiza who was among the patients treated and rehabilitated at the Katsina VVF centre now renamed National Obstetric Fistula Centre following its take-over by the federal government, said it took the intervention of an uncle who advised that she visit a health care centre for her to get the support she had received that led to her being treated of disorder
In Nigeria, VVF has social, economic, and religious implications as women with VVF in some areas are regarded as social outcasts with marriages reportedly dissolved as a result of this.
Many girls between the ages of 11 and 15 across the country become mothers either through early marriage or unwanted pregnancy. They experience obstructed labour even as some unskilled birth attendants simply cut through their private parts to create passage for the babies
that eventually result in VVF- the leakage of urine and faeces most the time. The malodorous nature of the condition makes women with VVF become outcast in the society. There are hundreds of thousands of such cases throughout the federation.
Only recently, the Katsina State government in collaboration with the state office of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) provided empowerment support to about one hundred women treated of VVF at the Katsina centre, located in Babbar Ruga Village of Batagarawa Local government area.
At the disbursement which was supported by the Service to Humanity, a
Katsina-based non governmental organization, the need for collaborative efforts in addressing the problem of VVF was taken to front burner with health experts insisting that the nation needed to step up measures at improving maternal health through elimination of fistula.
Indeed, one of the major public health problems bedeviling the
Nigerian nation, like most of other developing countries, is VVF. It is estimated that about 400,000 to 800,000 women are living with the scourge and it is widely believed that about
20,000 women more develop the problem every year.
It is a common knowledge that VVF which has continued to be a serious reproductive health problem for women in the country, occurs as a result of obstruction during child birth. This obstruction from whatever cause during child birth leads ultimately to tissue damage and continuous leakage of faeces or urine and in some cases, both.
Women who are unfortunate enough to suffer from this problem face the social isolation as a result of the smell occasioned by continuous leakage of urine and or faeces.
As with most health and social indicators, Nigeria’s ranking in the global fistula prevalence is worrisome because the nation accounts for 40 percent of the world-wide prevalence with approximately 20,000 new cases occurring each year.
Not surprising, in Nigeria, findings reveal that the VVF affects mostly the poor, illiterate and young women who live in the rural areas with little or no access to information and health care services. As should be expected, the nation’s poor health care delivery system is among the factors that contribute to the rising incidence of VVF.
Contrary to the erroneous belief that early marriage was solely responsible for the problem of VVF, health experts said the inability of pregnant women to attend ante-natal remained the major contributory factor.
It is said that prevention still remains the key to addressing the problem of VVF. Stakeholders in the health sector are in agreement that strategies have to be evolved to include strengthening political commitment that creates a supportive enabling environment.
Expectedly, views are being expressed on the need for government to ensure availability of treatment facilities. It is in this regard that the federal government recently revealed that arrangements are in top gear for it to assume ownership of Katsina VVF treatment centre.
The VVF desk officer at the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Dogara Okara disclosed, during a workshop on the dissemination of national strategic framework for the elimination of fistula in Nigeria, that before the end of June this year, FG would take over the Katsina VVF centre and upgrade same to an international fistula research centre.
He pointed out that there are no fewer than 12 dedicated centres offering VVF services in Nigeria out of which the Katsina VVF centre has the highest number of patients with about 70 percent of total surgery being conducted by one Dr. Kees from Holland.
As the Katsina state first lady, Hajiya Fatima Shema rightly observed during a speech to mark the presentation of economic empowerment incentives to some treated VVF patients, what is required is the collaborative efforts of all and sundry.
While reaffirming the commitment of her non-governmental organization- Service to Humanity- to providing support services to victims of VVF as well as championing the cause of eliminating the problem, Mrs. Shema said “there is the need, now more than ever before for all and sundry to join in the fight to eradicate VVF.”
Indeed, the prevention of VVF depends mainly on knowledge, participation and quality health services. The numerous rural women and some urban poor who still lack adequate knowledge about the problem need nothing short of sensitization just as government at all levels must be taken to task on the need to provide functional health care services in every nook and cranny of the nation.