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Federal Government mandates free fistula surgery at teaching hospitals

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L-R: The National Coordinator of Fistula Project, Federal Ministry of Health, Chief Mrs. Ogunmayi Peters; The Country Manager EngenderHealth, Chief Iyeme Efem, and The Commissioner for Health, Cross Rivers State, Dr. Mrs. Inyang Asibong, at the General Hospital Ogoja, Cross rivers state, during the flag-off of the hospital’s 16th obstetric fistula pooled effort repair.

The Federal government, through the Ministry of Health, has dispatched immediate directive to all teaching hospitals and Federal Medical Centre in the country, to wave off payment of surgery and laboratory fees for all fistula clients who present for treatment at the tertiary hospitals.

The National Coordinator of Fistula Project, Federal Ministry of Health, Chief Mrs Ogunmayi Peters, made this known yesterday, at the General Hospital Ogoja, Cross rivers state, during the flag-off of the hospital’s 16th obstetric fistula pooled effort repair.

Mrs Peters, who represented the federal ministry of health, said; “The letter has been signed and is being dispatched right now to all the teaching hospitals and Federal Medical Centres.This is being done in collaboration with Fistula Care Plus Project, who will take care of the provision of consumables and other necessities”, she said.

According to her, this directive will take place immediately, as soon as the hospitals receive the directive. “Our able Minister who is a renown professor of obstetrics is already a fistula surgeon and he has taken it as part of his priority to take care of vulnerable women especially in the area of fistula and cancer cases.

She mentioned that the minister has also approved the creation of fistula desk in all the states. “for now we have about 16 fistula centres, we want to increase that to 36, in all the states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). This means that all the tertiary hospital will have a fistula centre.

For training, we are collaborating with EngenderHealth, implementing partners of Fistula Care Plus project, to train and retrain the nurses and doctors, so they, in turn, can also train others”, she said.

Mrs Peters explained that the federal budget for fistula, has always been increasing but the problem is the release of fund.

Earlier on, the Commissioner for Health, Cross Rivers State, Dr Mrs Inyang Asibong, while delivering her speech, said the plight of fistula is considered an endemic situation, which is why the state now has a fistula desk in the ministry.

She added that the governor of Cross River State, Prof. Ben Ayade, is very passionate about the health of women and children, and is committed to reducing the backlog cases of fistula in the state.
In his speech, the Chief Medical Officer, General Hospital Ogoja, appealed for support for new VVF block and renovation of the old units. He said the VVF centre has so far carried out 500 obstetric fistula repairs through 18 pooled effort repair, since it started in November 2011. According to him, there is an urgent need for renovation and expansion due to constant clients congestion.

He said; ” the proposed new VVF block if completed, will accommodate consumable store, kitchen, internet services physiotherapy and a theatre. Other needs in the unit include utility vehicle, provision of ten solar electric light pole and medical commodities.

In his reaction, The Country Manager EngenderHealth, Chief Iyeme Efem, said there is an ongoing discussion between his organisation and Cross Rivers state regarding the construction of a new fistula block. He, however, assured the CMD, that the current block will be refurbished by Fistula Care Plus Project. “We’re excited about this repair. The last one Was done in April this year. We will continue until our women are all repaired. Now people are beginning to see that there is no state without fistula, and they are asking for a fistula centre. Hopefully, we will continue to open fistula centres until every state has a centre.

At the event, women who had been repaired successfully and had given birth afterwards were there to share their success stories. The Fistula Coordinator, Ogoja General Hospital, Mr Paul Njagu, said; ” this is proof that women who have been repaired can have a normal life. People thought that if you’ve had fistula repair, that your own is over but this is not true. In this centre, we have had success stories”.


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