The National Obstetric Fistula Centre, Abakaliki, says paucity of funds is hampering its efforts to reintegrate Vesico Vaginal Fistual patients to the society.
Dr Daniyan Babafemi, Head of Clinical Services at the centre, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abakaliki.
Babafemi said that the limited funds at its disposal had hampered the Social Welfare Department of the centre to carry out advocacy to communities.
He said: “The centre has counsellors and social workers but our major challenge is funds to organise skills acquisition programmes to empower these patients.
“Advocacy and sensitising the public needs funding because the team are sent into communities.”
He said that the centre had five mandates of repairing, prevention, research, training and rehabilitation of patients who had suffered obstetric fistula.
He said studies conducted by the centre revealed that even after successful repair, the patients were still stigmatised.
Babafemi said that the centre had put a lot of efforts in place to reintegrate treated patients with their family through counselling even before admission.
He noted that the patients were faced with serious financial and acceptance challenges after treatment.
Babafemi appealed to the Federal Government to assist the centre and the patients overcome the challenges.
Chidubem Okoye, a patient from Enugu at the centre who is currently assisted by her sister, said her husband had not returned to the hospital since she was admitted.
Okoye, a mother of one, said that her problem started when she delivered her baby, and pleaded with the government to come to her aid.
She said: “My husband has not returned again since I was admitted, instead he called me on phone and asked me to return to my mother.
“I am here with my sister.”
But the Enugu State Commissioner for Health, Dr Fintan Ekochin, said that the state’s health institutions hardly record any case of VVF because its obstetricians ensure that professionally VVF did not occur.
Ekochin told NAN that the state did not have victims of VVF to be reintegrated.
He noted that education and exposure had made most people, especially communities in the state to shun early girl child marriage in any form.
He said: “We have professionals, I mean obstetric doctors that do a neat job in child bearing, especially as it concerns child delivery and health of nursing mothers in the state.
“While we are currently running a free maternal and child care
programme in every state government-owned hospital to allow every resident take advantage of the hospital system and its professionals to deliver in a healthy way.
“Our people and community do not engage in early girl child marriage any more notwithstanding the baptismal name given to it.’’
Igwe Lawrence Agubuzu, the Chairman, Enugu State Traditional Rulers’ Council, said the council had succeeded in stamping out all forms of female genital mutilation and early girl-child marriages, which could cause VVF.
Agubuzu said that traditional rulers in the state had campaigned vigorously against the practice and had succeeded in stopping it.
He said: “Today, the state does not have any burden or issue of reintegration of VVF victims.
“The traditional rulers’ council made it a subject to be tackled and today we the traditional rulers had fought it and wiped it out
completely in the state.”