By Musdapha Ilo, Maiduguri
The Borno State government has called for concerted efforts from traditional rulers and stakeholders, including governments at all levels, to find a lasting solution to the increasing cases of Vesico Virginal Fistula, VVF, in the country.
Speaking at the flag off of a one – week training programme on rehabilitation and reintegration of 40 treated VVF patients in Maiduguri on Tuesday, the commissioner for women affairs, Inna Galadima, stressed that Nigeria must not be left behind in the fight to completely stamp out the ailment.
Galadima who was represented by Ladi Bappa, the permanent secretary in the ministry, expressed the belief that the scourge can be dealt with through community sensitization and mobilization to eliminate deeply rooted traditions and practices that encouraged its prevalence.
She said that the training was organized by the ministry with support from the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, to rehabilitate 40 already treated VVF patients in the state and to reintegrate them with the society.
The commissioner noted that obstructed labour, prolonged second stage labour, ignorance, poverty, illiteracy and some cultural practices like female genital mutilation and the application of salt during labour popularly known in northern Nigeria as Yankan gishiri, are major causes of VVF.
She said that an estimated 800,000 women and girls suffer VVF, adding that the training is central to human capacity development as its absence breeds ignorance and hinders meaningful development and change.
Galadima lauded UNFPA, the donor agency, for its support. She said the organization contributed greatly, through the federal ministry of health and Fistula Care, to develop a comprehensive referral document used to train health workers to serve as guide in the provision of holistic, respectful, simple and affordable, quality and evidence – based care for obstetric fistula.
The guest speaker from the Centre on Enhancement of Small Scale Businesses in the federal ministry of science and technology, Mohammed Zarma, urged those benefiting from the rehabilitation programme to develop good entrepreneurial skills and wisely invest the monies given to them.
“You will need to be prudent, determined and focused,” he counselled even as he urged the women not to use the monetary assistance given to them by the state government to buy clothe, foods or other things but to start small businesses so as to earn a living.