The North East Development Commission has commenced free corrective surgery for 100 women with Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) in Borno.

The Chairman of the commission, Retired Maj.-Gen. Paul Tarfa, said at the launch of the surgery in Maiduguri on Tuesday, that NEDC was concerned about the growing number of women with VVF.

Also known as obstetric fistula, VVF is an abnormal opening between the bladder and the vagina that results in continuous and unremitting urinary incontinence. 

The entity is one of the most distressing complications of gynecologic and obstetric procedures, commonly caused by obstructed labour, early marriage, poverty, and women’s limited control over the use of family resources.

However, VVF can be treated through advanced laparoscopic surgery to give women living with the condition a new lease of life.

The NEDC chairman, therefore, who was represented by a board member of the commission, Hajiya Asmau Muhammed, said the intervention was in collaboration with Borno Government and Fistula Foundation Nigeria.

Tarfa said “statistics indicate that there are about 250,000 women awaiting VVF repair surgery in Nigeria, out of which, only 3,000 are fortunate to be attended to annually.

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“12,000 new cases develop every year with a large number coming from the North East due to the insecurity and increased poverty which further hinder access to healthcare.

“The plight of these unfortunate women who experienced obstetric fistula apart from being dejected is a very lonely one.

“It is therefore important that all efforts are made to bring succour to these women to enable them to pick the pieces of their lives, by offering them a new lease for meaningful existence within their respective communities.”

He added that similar intervention would be extended to other North-East states and urged beneficiaries who underwent the surgery to remain fistula-free by making sure they postponed pregnancy and sex at least by one year.

He also advised the beneficiaries to make sure they were delivered of subsequent babies in hospitals by Caesarean Section.

The Managing Director of NEDC, Alhaji Mohammed Alkali, said that the VVF survivors, after recovery, would be given financial support with skills acquisition training to resume their normal lives.

Alkali said the commission had many programmes for women because of its special concern for them.

In their respective remarks, the state’s Commissioner for Health, Mrs. Juliana Bitrus, and the Chief Medical Director, Maiduguri Specialist Hospital, Dr. Laraba Bello, lauded NEDC for the free treatment and urged other organisations to emulate it.

Two of the beneficiaries, Hadiza Ali and Hajiya Zara, narrated how they suffered for years before the intervention came, and thanked the commission for the gesture. 

They appealed to Borno State Government to assist them with accommodation, as they have been divorced by their husbands due to their condition, lost their parents to Boko Haram onslaught and have nowhere to stay.

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