Governor Nasir El-Rufai has created an N50 million budget line for Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) patients in the 2020 budget for their treatment, food and skills training.
The state Commissioner of Human Services and Social Development, Hajiya Hafsat Baba made the disclosure at a high-level conference on Obstetric Fistula held in Kaduna state.
She said that the state has over 12,000 untreated VVF cases, as the only VVF centre at Gambo Sawaba hospital can only treat 200 patients annually.
Hafsat said the state government is however meticulous in treating the VVF patients.
“In the first phase, patients are hospitalized for at least three weeks and they go through psycho-social aid process, which includes nutrition and counselling.
She further said that after the skills training, the patients receive starter packs to enable them to commence businesses after their treatment.
Gov. Nasir El-Rufai, who was represented by Dr Amina Mohammed-Baloni, the Commissioner of Health, commended Fifth Chucker Polo and Country Club for the bold step in defining the partnership with the government and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to eradicate fistula in Kaduna state.
El-Rufai said his administration is focusing on prevention of new fistulas and combating the huge backlog in fistula repairs, totalling 12,000, by 2022.
‘’By working together, the Government, the Private Sector and Development Partners can unleash innovative ways of mobilizing the requisite ideas, expertise and resources and create shared accountability to tackle and end obstetric fistula in Kaduna State,’’ he added.
In his contribution, the governor’s Chief of Staff, Malam Muhammad Sani-Abdullahi promised that the government would provide N4.5 million for 100 fistula repair surgeries and N2.5 million for socio-economic rehabilitation of 25 indigent patients.
He added that the government would also support the recruitment of 10 vocational skills instructors at VVF Rehabilitation Unit of Gambo Sawaba Hospital Zaria and train six additional health workers on the management of Obstetric Fistula, including two surgeons.
The wife of Kaduna state governor, Hajiya Ummi El Rufai, who was the Ambassador of Fistula in the state, praised the ministry of health and staff of UNFPA for leading the fight against VVF.
Mrs El-Rufai said she had visited the VVF Centre at the Gambo Sawaba General hospital several times, adding that the patients need to be supported.
The governor’s wife said there is a nexus between the Kaduna Emergency Nutrition Action Plan, which she heads, and the fight against VVF, adding that both afflict the poor and vulnerable in the society.
Speaking on the global campaign to end Fistula, Dr Mamadou Kante, Deputy Regional Director of UNFPA said that the disease ‘’represents the face of the global community’s failure to protect the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls as well as a failure to achieve equitable access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive healthcare services.
‘’The emotional and physical side effects of obstetric fistulas stem largely from the fact that urine or faeces leak from the fistulas of affected women and cause them to be shunned by others.
‘’ As a result of a fistula, women and girls lose their babies, suffer constant pain or discomfort created by the unrelenting wetness from the leak, and are often deserted by their husbands and communities.
“Moreover, women and girls become socially isolated, lose the ability to sustain normal lives, and become economically dependent on others.”
According to him, many communities view fistula as a curse and hide the women and girls away instead of seeking medical help.
Kante, however, noted that decreasing the prevalence of obstetric fistula is challenging because it requires altering cultural practices and strengthening very weak healthcare systems.
He lamented that Nigeria contributes 7.5% of the global fistula burden, with an estimated 150,000 women and girls suffering from untreated fistulas and more than 12,000 new cases occurring every year.
‘’These numbers are not acceptable; not when the fistula is all but eliminated from the developed world,’’ he stressed.
Donations were made by individuals and corporate organisations, with Fifth Chukker Polo and Country Club giving N5 million and promising additional N5 million yearly for the next 10 years.