Calabar - More than 200,000 women in Nigeria are currently suffering from Vesico-Vaginal Fistula (VVF) condition, Chief Iyeme Efem, Programme Manager, USAID Fistula Care Project in Nigeria, has said.
The Nigerian VVF patients, according to Efem, represent about 40 per cent of cases of the scourge in the world.
He told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Calabar that the disturbing magnitude of VVF prevalence in the country had forced the Federal Government to order care of 66,000 patients in 2013.
"The prevalence of the scourge in Nigeria is worrisome and President Goodluck Jonathan has ordered that 66,000 persons living with VVF conditions should be given free repair surgery in 2013,’’ he said.
Efem said a National Strategic Framework for the Elimination of Obstetric Fistula in Nigeria, covering 2011 to 2015 was currently in place, adding, however, that the President’s target might not be attained in 2013.
He attributed his fear to lack of funds, saying that due to inadequate funding, USAID was only able to carry out repair surgeries on not more than 8, 000 patients in its centres across the country in 2012.
"Federal Government’s budgetary provision for the care of VVF patients in 2011 and 2012 were N300 million and N250 million, respectively; but the money was not released and no one could account for it,’’ he said.
He said the cost of repair surgery on a VVF patient was 250 dollars (about N39,000), adding that an additional N50,000 was required for the rehabilitation of the patient after surgery.
He urged the relevant authorities to release all approved funds for the handling of the scourge.
"It took us a lot of time and energy to convince the Federal Ministry of Health to provide and pursue budget for VVF treatment in the country.’’
The USAID programme manager said dearth of professionals in the field was another drawback to meeting the target.
"In Nigeria, we are still in dire need of trained medical personnel on VVF. Only a few Nigerian doctors and nurses have ventured into the treatment of VVF and this will affect the government’s programme in that area, this year. Repairing VVF is time-consuming because the disease is often complicated. It means that only few sufferers can have their cases repaired in two weeks or a month, if the patient is not to suffer a relapse,’’ he said.