The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) said the agency has empowered 6000 Vesico-Vaginal Fistula (VVF) survivors in Nigeria and tasked governments to ensure that girls are encouraged to go to school.
Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin, the Executive Director, UNFPA, disclosed this at the fifth graduation from the vocational skills training of women and girls living with obstetric fistula on Monday in Kano.
He said the 25 women and girls are the beneficiaries from the rehabilitation programme in 2016.
According to him, in Nigeria, it is estimated that 12,000 new fistula cases occur each year, and approximately 150,000 women of reproductive age are affected with Obstetric Fistula.
“The women, beyond the agony of losing their babies they experience, they must endure the mockery of others, the rejection of friends and family, and the stigmatisation put on them by the society,’’ he said.
He said UNFPA spearheaded the Global Campaign to End Fistula, to help prevent, treat, rehabilitate, and reintegrate women and girls to their communities.
He added that in line with these objectives, the fund through an innovative collaboration with the government and other partners, launched the Fistula Fortnight in Kano, and implemented in Kaduna, Sokoto and Kebbi states.
He said the Fistula Fortnight was a groundbreaking initiative in terms of advocacy, mobilising support and expanding access to treatment.
Osotimehin said UNFPA actively supported the establishment of Laure Fistula Treatment Centre in Murtala Mohammed Specialist Hospital, Kano, and the training of healthcare workers from Gwarzo and Gezawa General Hospitals in fistula management and prevention.
The executive director said it is in addition to supply of fistula surgical equipment, treatment kits and consumables, including preventive midwifery equipment and delivery kits to these hospitals.
He added that UNFPA also supported with equipping of the Kwalli VVF Hostel including supply of teaching aids to the literacy classroom.
He commended the state’s free maternal and child health policy, recruitment of more healthcare workers and upgrading of general hospitals, as laudable initiatives towards reducing the risk of maternal mortality and morbidity.
He said ending fistula remains one of UNFPA’s highest priorities and “we shall intensify our efforts towards the elimination of obstetric fistula within this generation’’.
“We implore governments at all levels to promote programmes that will prevent and reduce the needless suffering and untimely death of women, by ensuring equitable coverage and timely access to healthcare services,
“in particular, emergency obstetric and newborn care, skilled birth attendance, obstetric fistula treatment, and family planning,’’ he emphasised.
Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Usman Alhaji, said the state was determined to get out of the problem by boosting the girl child enrolment in the state.
He said Kano state has over three million pupils in the schools, stressing that the state is doing all it could to ensure that girls remain in school as technical delay against early marriage.