Nigeria accounts for highest cases of VVF globally – Dr Lengman, Fistula Project Coordinator

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From Gyang Bere, Jos

150,000 women are battling with Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) in Nigeria, making the country to account for the highest number of VVF burden globally.

Dr Sunday Lengman, Fistula Project Coordinator, Bingham University Teaching Hospital, Jos stated this to commemorates the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula (IDEOF) a day, set by the United Nations to recognise the struggles of women living with fistula.

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He said fistula is a devastating health condition caused primarily by prolonged/obstructed labor and increasingly, unsafe obstetric or gynecological surgery.

”Today is the International Day for the eradication of Fistula, in Nigeria we are doing our bit to end it and it is quite immense because Nigeria has the highest population of women living with VVF standing at over 150,000.

”VVF is an abnormal fistulous tract extending between the bladder and the vagina that allows the continuous involuntary discharge of urine into the vaginal vault,” he said.

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Lengman said as part of the commemoration of the day, the centre has flagged off free corrective surgeries for women who came from Kano, Taraba and environs.

He revealed that childbirth injuries contributes to 98 percent of the development of VVF, while other causes includes certain cancers, surgical interventions, trauma, harmful traditional practices such as genital mutilation and congenital defects.

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He however stated that the centre also provides prevention services to women all over Nigeria who were at risk of getting VVF.

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Lengman advised that girls should remain in school as they would escape the early years of being forced into marriage until they reach maturity, adding that supervised delivery by health workers could reduce the risk of having VVF in women.

He also encouraged women who were pregnant to register in health facilities in case they needed surgical interventions, while encouraging them to eat healthy during pregnancy.

The clinician stated that the centre also gave secondary intervention to women by attacking the fistula early enough adding that it was when the fistula stays for a long time that husbands, families and employers desert the patients.

He revealed that the centre has operated over 550 women with fistula who have been reintegrated back to society with international patients from Togo, Cameroon, Chad and other neighbouring countries who were deemed inoperable in their countries.

Lengman added that they offered all services free of charge including feeding and accommodation, getting its funding from international donors such as Fistula Foundation, California, Christopher Blinded Mission (CBM) Global.

Others he said are the CBM International and Direct Relieve which he said the funds were used for outreaches in other states in Nigeria.

He said the centre has been accredited by FIGO, a world body for obstetricians and gynaecologists to a training centre after seeing their contribution to the treatment and possible eradication of VVF in Nigeria.