The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole has said that an estimated 150,000 women and girls are living with untreated fistula in Nigeria with an annual incidence of 12,000 -15, 000 cases.
Speaking during a High Level Awareness Seminar on Fistula, held in Abuja, Adewole said that the unmet need for the treatment of obstetric fistula could be as high as 98% in Nigeria, with less than 3,000 fistula repairs done annually (NSF2018).
He added that the country contributes 15% to the global burden of the obstetric fistula.
According to the minister, the 2017 report by UNICEF had revealed that 43% of Nigerian girls are married off before their 18th birthday, while 17% are married before they turn 15. “The North Eastern and North Western Geo- Political Zones have the highest number of cases.
“It is also estimated that about 2,000 fistula repairs annually (NSF 2018- 2022) and 10,000 clients are added annually to subsequent years new cases’’, he added.
To this end, the minister said that Federal government and Development Partners were making concerted efforts to eliminate fistula and investing in capacity building of various cadres of Healthcare Workers.
“Obstetric Fistula is a devastating Childbirth injury which leads to both physical and social harm for women. Women who experience obstetric fistula suffer constant incontinence, shame, social segregation and health problems.
“The development of obstetric fistula is directly linked to one of the major causes of maternal mortality; obstructed labour. It is estimated that more than 2 million young women live with untreated obstetric fistula in Asia and Sub- Saharan Africa,’’ he added.
Identifying prolonged obstructed labour caused by limited access to emergency obstetric care as one of the common causes of Obstetric Fistula in Nigeria, the minister lamented that only 38% of deliveries in Nigeria are supervised by Skilled Birth Attendants (SBAs).
“Socio- cultural practices including early marriage and early childbirth before the pelvis is fully developed also contribute significantly”.
He stressed that the FMOH had developed National Training Guidelines in conjunction with National Group on Obstetric Fistula, development partners, line ministries and other key relevant Stakeholders.
The Minister informed that the FMOH would established four more National Centres and one regional centre, in addition to the three National Centres ‘’ This will increase our national obstetric centres to eight including regional centre’’
He urged partners to join the fight against the scourge of fistula in the society, adding that FG would continue to play a leading role in setting the agenda.
Earlier in her welcome address, the Director, Family Health Department, Dr. Adebimpe Adebiyi, said that the FMOH was committed towards the elimination of Obstetric Fistula and improve the lives of women and children in Nigeria
In his remarks, the UNFPA, Acting Country Representative in Nigeria, Dr. Eugene Kongnyuy, said that there was need to create more awareness on OFs in Nigeria. He further said that focus should be on improving Girl- Child Education, Child spacing, Gender trust and people showing more compassion.