UNFPA pledges to campaign against Fistula disease in Nigeria

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Mrs Ulla Muller, the Country Representative, UN Population Fund (UNFPA), has promised to scale up the campaign against Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) in Nigeria.

 

She asserted UNFPA’s large imprints in prevention and curative interventions of the VVF in collaboration with other stakeholders in the country.

 

In an interview, she also spoke on the International Fistula day marked every 23rd May. This years theme comes with a passionate drive stating;

“End gender inequality! End health inequities! End Fistula now!”

Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) is an abnormal fistulous tract extending between the bladder (vesico) and the vagina, that leads to continuous involuntary discharge of urine into the vagina.

The UN envoy said that enabling younger women to access antenatal care and safe deliveries was key to preventing VVF.

She emphasised the need for engagement of community leaders in preventing VVF through provision of skilled birth attendants as well as spacing of children.

Muller explained that training of healthcare workers and midwives were imperative in preventing and curing VVF in Nigeria.

According to her, VVF has destroyed the lives of many young women and caused many families untold hardships.

Muller, who described Nigerian fistula surgeons amongst the best in the world, said it was advisable for women who had undergone repair surgery to avoid getting pregnant for at least 12 months after to avoid a repeat fistula.

She renewed UNFPA’s commitment to creating awareness on the condition through the use of traditional and social media platforms, targeting young persons.

 

Muller attributed the prevalence of VVF to health system failure to deliver timely maternal care and harmful sociocultural practices such as child marriage which, she said, often exposed young girls to the risk of the disease.

“It is therefore critical for ending fistula that we work with communities to change behaviour making it acceptable to delay the first pregnancy,” she said.

Beside, she reiterated the commitment of UNFPA to ending fistula by actualising its three transformative goals in Nigeria of Zero Maternal, Mortality and Morbidities such as fistula.

Muller said this would be achieved through improving the quality of sexual and reproductive healthcare; Zero Unmet Need for Family Planning by ensuring access to contraceptives for women who have undergone fistula repair.

The UNFPA country representative promised to continue to address the social drivers of fistula through ensuring Zero Gender Based Violence (GBV) and harmful practices.

Further reports state that every May 23 has been set aside by the UN as World Fistula Day to draw global attention to the issue.

Suzan O

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