VVF: Abandoned Borno women reunite with husbands after free treatment


Women in Borno State , who had lost their dignity and marriages because of Vesico-vaginal Fistula (VVF), are being rehabilitated and helped to return to their husbands, officials have said.

Hundreds of women in the state suffer from VVF, an ailment that has to do with uncontrolled discharge of urine due to the damage of the urinary tract in women.

Medical experts describe fistula or VVF as an abnormal extension track, extending between the bladder (vesica) and vagina, which often allows the continuous, uncontrolled and involuntary discharge of urine into the vagina vault.

Medical experts say early marriage and obstructed labour are the most common causes of VVF.

Women and girls with this ailment are often abandoned by their husbands and isolated from the community due to the smell and associated shame of the urine leakage.

To reverse this trend that left thousands of females in depressed condition and trauma, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFP) had in collaboration with the Borno State ministry of health embarked on a massive “repair” programme for women and girls with leaking bladder.

The state’s Director of Medical Emergencies and Humanitarian Response, Babashehu Mohammed, told journalists the fistula repair programme started in 2018 when the UNFP collaborated with the state under a programme funded by the government of Japan.

Mr Babashehu revealed this at the flag-off of a two-week Pool Fistula campaign organised in collaboration with the UNFP.

“Over 100 women from various parts of Borno State and the northeast, in general, have been targeted to undergo surgical operations that lead to the repair of their ruptured urinary system.”

He said the Korean International Co-operation Agency (KOICA) funded the programme, under the coordination of UNFPA.

This programme “is aimed at fostering resilience and provision of basic medical service among women and girls in the state,” he said.

The programme was also designed to “increase access to comprehensive medical and child health care among others,” the director said.

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The high point of the event was the visit and official flag-off of the programme by the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon.

Mr Kallon commended the efforts of the UNFPA and officials of the Borno State ministry of health for the “repairs and rehabilitation of women with Vesicovaginal Fistula (VVF).”

Speaking at the ward where some 27 VVF survivors were recovering, Mr Kallon said the repair would also add impetus to the resettlement of internally displaced persons and restore hope to the women.

‘What we are trying to do is to bring back hope to these women. We are not leaving them behind. We are trying to make them members of the society,’ Mr Kallon said.

“I hope that at the end of the day, we can make them an integral part of society with this kind of support.”

He added that “Nigeria alone accounts for over 150,000 fistula patients based on currently available statistics.

‘The campaign being launched today is very critical especially as it increases access to productive health services, ante-natal services, deliverieries and post-natal services, optic or family planning, child harmful traditional practices.’”

The medical director of the Borno State Specialist Hospital, Laraba Hassan, said the new surgical ward and theatre where the VVF patients were being treated was built by the KOICA through the facilitation of the UNFPA.

She said one of the successes recorded in the repair and restoration of VVF survivors dignity is the reunification of some of the women with their husbands who had earlier abandoned or divorced them.

One of the survivors, a 27-year-old woman, whose name is being protected to safeguard her dignity, said “I am happy that I can now live the normal life that I am used to before this ailment came to me. I am also happy that my former husband has agreed to take me back. I thank the UN people and the doctors here in the hospital for being so kind to us.”

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