By Elijah Ugani: Health Correspondent
The Cross River State government has said that there are up to 2,000 undiagnosed cases of vesicovaginal fistula (VVF) in the state.
This is even as the state plans the repair of 50 VVF cases at the VVF center in Calabar in partnership with the Fistula Foundation of Nigeria and the United Nation’s Population Fund Agency (UNFPA).
“In Cross River State, we have no particular figure of those living with fistula but we are sure that majority of our people are living with it and hope up to 2000 undiagnosed cases,” said Dr. Inyang Asibong, the commissioner for health and 2017 CrossRiverWatch Man of The Year while addressing press men at the center located inside the General Hospital in Calabar.
Continuing, she noted that: “This campaign is very necessary for us as a State because some of these women go through a lot ranging from stigmatisation, rejection, disenchantment and you can imagine the trauma associated with the stigma.”
She said about 12,000 new cases are registered every year and disclosed that the Calabar VVF center which was opened in 2016, “has been engaged in carrying out repairs at intervals depending on the number of patients who come here; we have another center at the General Hospital Ogoja, and have successfully repaired over 200 cases there.”
She commended the mobilizers across the 18 local government areas of the State for the high turnout and pointed out that she has been involved personally in the reintegration of some of the patients into the communities to avert the stigma.
Earlier, the medical superintendent of the hospital, Dr. Etim Ayi who said he was trained by the state on VVF repairs told newsmen that: “The end fistula campaign is in line with the UNFPA and the Sustainable Development Goals to ensure that fistula is completely eradicated by the year 2030. Other States in the North have started and now we have moved to Cross River State.”
On the partnership Ayi stated that: “We employed their services, we organized a workshop for 18 community mobilizers (social workers), one from each local government area and sensitized them on what fistula is all about and get them to know their role, how they could assist to eradicate fistula. They were quite happy and went to the villages and mobilized the patients and that is why we have 27 of them present here. They would continue to come and we will attend to them.”
On his part, the President and Founder of Fistula Foundation of Nigeria, Dr. Isa Musa, averred that: “We are here to support UNFPA and the Ministry of Health to embark on this end fistula campaign in the State, we are particularly grateful to the Commissioner for Health for this opportunity you have given us, we hope that after our one week of repairs here we should have completed 50 repairs; at least 10 repairs a day.”
When contacted, the Head of Office and Program Officer of UNFPA, Calabar sub office, Mr. Keneth Ehuozuo noted that: “As part of mandate, UNFPA is committed to ending fistula, we quiet appreciate the efforts of both the state government and the Fistula Foundation of Nigeria in their resilience and aggressive campaign towards eradication of fistula.
“A lot needs to be done, the reward for good is more work. Let me encourage them to be more aggressive in the awareness and campaign to end fistula in Nigeria.”
CrossRiverWatch gathered that at least three surgeons are on ground to carry out repairs.
Meanwhile, the birth of the first In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) baby in the state was announced last week during the commissioning of the first IVF center in the state.
In Vitro Fertilization is a medical procedure whereby an egg is fertilized by sperm in a test tube or elsewhere outside the body. The process involves monitoring and stimulating a woman’s ovulatory process, removing an ovum or ova from the woman’s ovaries and getting it fertilized in a laboratory.
And, Dr. Asibong while commissioning the facility, said that the state will always strive to bring the best to ensure efficient healthcare delivery to for residents.
The parents of the child, Mr. and Mrs. Okunsaya had been married five years without a child until they underwent IVF in January 2018.
Dr. Asibong said the state will create awareness on the breakthrough for the benefit of those who are eligible.
The center is at the Baby Mother of Mercy Specialist Clinic located at the Ekorinim axis of the Calabar metropolis. The facility is owned by Dr. Charles Njoku, a consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist.
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