No fewer than 41 Vesicovaginal Fistula (VVF) patients underwent free repair surgery, under the Fistula Foundation Nigeria (FFN) support programme in Sokoto State.
The free five-day medical intervention was organised in collaboration with UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and Sokoto State Government with support from the Canadian Government.
The surgery was conducted between Nov. 22 and Nov. 26 at the Fistula Treatment Centre, Maryam Abacha Women and Children’s Hospital, Sokoto.
Vesicovaginal Fistula is an abnormal opening between the bladder and the vagina that results in continuous and unremitting urinary incontinence.
The condition can cause a lot of discomfort and, if left untreated, it may trigger serious bacterial infection which may result in sepsis, a dangerous condition that can lead to low blood pressure, organ damage or even death.
The FFN Director, Mr Musa Isa, said in Sokoto on Tuesday that 41 successful surgery repairs had been carried out, while the surgical operations on nine screened patients were still pending.
Isa said that a team of three doctors and six nurses handled both normal and complex surgeries during the exercise, adding that most cases were fresh and many patients still trooping to the centre.
He noted that COVID-19 pandemic had led to an upsurge in the number of fistula cases, as many women were delivered of babies at home without professional support, due to the lockdown to curtail the spread of the virus.
Isa said: “As you can see, most of the patients are fresh fistula cases; many were operated freely and empowered through donor support.
“More women living with fistula would be screened from various parts of the country, as the exercise continues in piecemeal under different support packages.”
The FFN Director thanked the state government and people of Canada for the VVF treatment.
He urged women and girls living with the condition from any part of the country to register at the centre for the surgery.
The Sokoto State VVF Coordinator at the Ministry of Health, Zainab Muhammad-Yabo, also commended the donors for the support.
Muhammad-Yabo said that the state had taken delivery of the consumables and other kits from supporting organisations, noting that the government complemented this by ensuring adequate planning and logistics to ensure a hitch-free exercise.
She called for more partnerships between state governments and NGOs to aid efforts to identify more patients to benefit from the project, stressing that more effort was needed in view of the increasing number of cases.
The coordinator expressed satisfaction with the attitude of workers and patients in the exercise.
She said that VVF could be caused by prolonged labour during childbirth, rape or Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), among other causes, noting, however, that the condition could be treated through surgical procedure.
She added that the state government had been doing its best toward supporting patients through free surgery and treatment.
Muhammad-Yabo said that other assistance given to the women after the surgery included education and empowerment with relevant skills, as well as their reintegration back to communities due to stigma associated with the condition.
Hasiya Ahmadu, A’ishatu Maiyabo and Bashariyya Isiyaku, some of the patients interviewed at treatment centre, expressed their gratitude for the surgery.
They explained that they have faced different hurdles in life after contracting VVF, saying that with the surgery, their dignity as women had been restored.