By G9ija

National Obstetrics Fistula Centre (NOFIC), Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, in collaboration with Circles and Frames Limited, has sensitised journalists in the state on dangers of Vesico-Vaginal Fistula (VVF), urging them to enlighten the public properly.

Flagging off the event in Abakaliki, the Medical Director, NOFIC, Dr. Johnson Obuna, said the programme was organised to arm journalists in the state with information on VVF, which afflicts women.

He said major causes of VVF include ignorance, poverty, poor health-seeking behaviour and refusal to go for a Caesarean Section when circumstances call for it during labour.

For every fistula patient, 15 women have died, he added, while advising women to use standard hospitals when expecting. He said: “The disease is more associated with the poor, though we have got some cases where even the educated ones have fistula. But it is basically the poor. We had kept quiet about it and that is why the Federal Government engaged a consultant to make noise about it, and the best people to create awareness about it are the journalists.

“The society has to be enlightened, so that more women will avoid fistula. We sent a publication to the United States and England on fistula, and they turned it down because they did not understand what we were saying. They were saying, ‘how can this kind of thing happen to a country?’ If you go to medical textbooks, except those written by indigenous people, you won’t see fistula in the content; they have forgotten what it was.”

According to Obuna, NOFIC is running maternal services to help women manage their delivery to avoid fistula. Fistula patients who have been repaired in the centre will receive free maternal services, including child delivery, while those who have no recorded case of fistula are allowed to access maternal services at a very cheap rate, he added.

His words: “We did a small research work. We went round the facilities in Ebonyi to know how they charge to deliver and we made our own the least for those who don’t have fistula.

“By April, the centre will be commissioned. We discovered that if a tap keeps on running and you do not close it, the tap will keep on running. That is why we said, let’s start maternity services that will help these women with free services, including care for their newborn.”

Director, Training, Research and Mobilisation, Prof. Henry Urochukwu, appealed to the media, as conscience of the society, to enlighten the public on fistula, instead of encouraging quackery and the consumption of unrefined products that do not have a dosage, indication and damages the human system.He was optimistic that if journalists played their role of informing the people, the problem would be 50 per cent solved.