12,000 develop fistula in Nigeria annually •As Oyo gets support for fistula care and prevention

From left, Dr Adamu Isa; USAID Fistula Care Plus Project Manager, Dr Habibu Sadauki; Oyo State Commissioner for Health, Dr Azeez Adeduntan and the Permanent Secretary, Oyo State Ministry of Health, Dr Olayemisi Iyiola at the occasion.

Fistula care and prevention in Oyo state got a boost on Monday with the donation of equipment to support family planning and maternal health care by the USAID’s funded Fistula Care Plus project.

USAID Fistula Care Plus Project Manager, Dr Habibu Sadauki, speaking at the occasion, said the donation was to support the state government in improving health in the state and especially those with fistula, a condition that leaves the women ostracised by their husband and the community because they smell and are offensive.

Sadauki, remarking that women affected by fistula are small in number but vulnerable because they are often ignorant, rural poor women, said up to 12000 new cases of fistula occur yearly in Nigeria, mainly due to prolonged obstructed labour.

“Only few cases of fistula occur from complications of caesarean operation when handled by people not competent to do the operation,” he added.

He declared that the Fistula Care Plus project being implemented by Engender Health alongside its other partners, was only able to repair 5, 000 cases annually, leaving a large backup every year.

Sadauki added that under the project, funds were made available to support the identification and repair of fistula, adding that after fistula was surgically repaired, the women can be re-integrated into their families with their dignity restored.

Such women, he added, can also resume their reproductive health life and even bear children.

The include equipment for maternal health and family planning services, he said was important because there is a strong relationship between the number of babies a woman has; how often she gets pregnant and fistula, a complication of childbirth.

According to him, “Before they are pregnant, they should be in very good health and they should get supervised in pregnancy and during labour to minimise complications and in particular eliminate fistula.

“After a repair, we always want them to remain without pregnancy through the use of family planning for at least a period of six months  and afterwards have selective caesarean operation to deliver their baby so that they can have a life baby, remain healthy and without fistula.

“About 95 per cent of mothers who develop fistula as a result of obstructed labour will also lose their baby in the course of that childbirth because the baby is stillborn, so it is a double jeopardy,” he said.

He also solicited for increased support of everyone in ensuring that fistula is repaired and prevented by ensuring that every pregnant woman is attended to by a skilled birth attendant during childbirth.

Oyo State Commissioner for Health, Dr Azeez Adeduntan, receiving the donors, said that the prevailing economic situation in Nigeria required more private-public partnership interventions.

Adeduntan, remarking that fistula and the women subsequently becoming ostracised  had led to many committing suicide, assured that he will do everything to protect infant and maternal health and reduce it to the barest minimum.

Given that the fistula care plus project was important to reducing infant and maternal mortality rates, he assured that his doors would always be open to support the project.

Earlier, Permanent Secretary, Oyo State Ministry of Health, Dr Olayemisi Iyiola, had declared that the cardinal programme of the Oyo State government included health care provision, adding that the partnership was important in addressing the plight of many women suffering in silence and ostracised.

Dr Olusoji Adeyanju, the Chief Consultant, Adeoyo Maternity Teaching Hospital, Ibadan said that for the past two and half years, the hospital had undertaken up to 60 fistula repairs under the Fistula Care Plus project.

The repair, which were done irrespective of the financial status of the women, had also ensured that capacity of health workers was built to be able to handle fistula repairs better.