UNFPA tasks Nigeria on fistula reduction

Rafat Salami, Abuja

The United Nations Population Fund UNFPA, has asked the Nigerian government to accelerate efforts towards eradicating fistula.

Obstetric fistula is a hole between the birth canal and the bladder or rectum caused by prolonged, obstructed labour without treatment. Women affected by Fistula always leak urine or feces’  uncontrollably.

The UNFPA representative in Nigeria Ms Ratidzai Ndholovu told Voice of Nigeria in Abuja, that Nigeria already has structures in place to eradicate the medical condition but that more government commitment was required.

New cases
Ms Ratidzai said twenty thousand new cases of fistula are reported in Nigeria every year, challenging government to intensify campaigns and programmes aimed at reducing the number of new cases.

”We really need to see that government takes it upon itself to ensure that we have midwives in this country and that the ones that are trained are not left to languish but are gainfully employed,” she stated.

She lamented the slow pace of repairs on the women already affected but said that if the 20,000 new cases annually is not reduced, the burden of fistula would continue to increase.

Nigeria is said to have one of the highest rates of fistula in the world. It is estimated that as many as 800,000 women could be living with fistula in the country, with another 20,000 new cases  reported annually, meanwhile just a little over a hundred of these fistula cases are repaired.

In addition to posting midwives to all health centers, Ms Ratidzai Ndholovu said government must also improve access and uptake of modern contraceptives and other family planning methods.

She said ‘there needs to be a change in the perception of what family planning is all about, so that people can accept it without fear’

According to the 2015 UNFPA State of the World’s Population report, there is a 22% unmet need for family planning in Nigeria due to inadequate availability of trained medical personnel and gaps in the supply chain of family planning commodities, particularly at the primary health care level.

In 2012, Nigeria pledged $45 million, up from $12 million, in four years to improve access and distribution and remove barriers to family planning. However, the Association for the Advancement of Family Planning has expressed concern that government is yet to redeem the $8.35 million pledge for reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health four years after it made the pledge.

Project director of the organisation Chinwe Onumonu appealed to government to release the funds.

Confidence O.