About 800,000 Nigerian women suffer from the disease called Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) annually, the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) has said.
Ms Ratidzai Ndhlovu, UNFPA Country Representative who disclosed this in Sokoto on Saturday at the graduation of 100 rehabilitated women living with obstetric Fistula, said one in every 100 Nigerian women currently suffere from VVF.
The event which was organised by UNFPA in collaboration with Sokoto State government and the state Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, was held at the Maryam Abacha Women and Children Hospital, Sokoto.
Represented by Dr Audu Alayande, Assistant Country Representative, Reproductive Health, Ndhlovu said that the country accounts for 40 per cent of the fistula scourge globally.
Ndhlovu, who explained that most women developed the condition due to child birth at home without assistance from skilled birth attendants, also donated assorted empowerment materials worth N2.3 million to the graduands.
Ndhlovu said: “In Nigeria, it is estimated that one in 100 women suffers from this condition, following childbirth, and about 800, 000 women affected. For this unfortunate group of women, every day, they must cope with the foul smell emanating from their leaking urine and faeces.
“Beyond the agony of missing their baby following difficulty in child birthing process they experience, some of these women are often abandoned by their husbands, stigmatized by families and communities, and later ostracized.”
Ndhlovu further disclosed that UNFPA Nigeria had a long term goal of ending obstetric fistula in the country, and would collaborate with relevant stakeholders to ensure prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and reintegration of women with fistula.
The Country Representative said the graduands had received a two-month training in sewing and knitting, petty trading and grinding machines operations, among others, and noted that the items given to them would help them to be productive and useful to themselves.
She continued: “This gesture is aimed at helping their reintegration process back into the society and reduce their stigmatization.”
Earlier, Dr Abubakar Gada, the Chief Medical Director (CMD), Maryam Abacha Women and Children Hospital, Sokoto, in his remark, called on well-meaning Nigerians to undertake such humanitarian gestures.
Also speaking at the event, Alhaji Suleiman Sarkin-Fulani, the Permanent Secretary, state ministry for Women and Children Affairs, commended UNFPA for the gesture.
He disclosed that the state government had staffed and equipped Maryam Abacha Hospital, which is also called the VVF Centre, to enable it to take care of its patients and appealed to other donor agencies, partner organizations and wealthy individuals to assist in treating and rehabilitating VVF patients.
Vesicovaginal Fistula, or VVF, is an abnormal fistulous tract extending between the bladder (or vesico) and the vagina that allows the continuous involuntary discharge of urine into the vaginal vault.
VVF is often caused by childbirth (obstetric fistula), when a prolonged labor presses the unborn child tightly against the pelvis, cutting off blood flow to the vesicovaginal wall, which results in the death of the affected tissue, necrotize, leaving a hole.