Nigeria to Mark International Day to End Obstetric Fistula

PRESS RELEASE: Abuja, Nigeria May 23 marks the annual International Day to End Fistula (IDEOF). Set aside by the United Nations, the day is meant to rally support and draw attention to activities targeting the elimination of fistula around the world. Annual commemorations help to raise awareness and remove taboos and misconceptions around fistula, with the goal of alleviating the burden on persons affected by the condition.

According to UNFPA, the theme of this year’s IDEOF, “Hope, healing, and dignity for all,” is, at its heart, a call to realize the fundamental human rights of all women and girls everywhere, with a special focus on those most left behind, excluded and shunned by society.

Women who have received fistula repair celebrate in Zaria, Nigeria

Chief Iyeme Efem, EngenderHealth Nigeria Country Project Manager for the USAID-funded Fistula Care Plus (FC+) project stated, “The theme of this year’s International Day to End Obstetric Fistula captures the essence of the work we do. Firstly, we need to understand that women with fistula are stigmatized and marginalized within the society. The theme for this year aptly reflects the reversal of their situation through the services the US Government offers. The USAID FC+ project offers them HOPE that their condition is not hopeless and they can have succor. It provides the opportunity for them to experience healing, not only for the fistula through repairs, but also for their emotions. Lastly, it restores their dignity as women and make them stand tall and proud again. So the theme actually reflects this very well.”

FC+, in conjunction with the Federal Government of Nigeria, state governments of Ebonyi, Katsina, Oyo, and Sokoto States, as well as other partners will roll-out a set of activities to create awareness on fistula, commonly known as VVF, and commemorate the day in Nigeria.

In Abuja, there will be an English-language nationwide live radio discussion on the Network Service of Radio Nigeria during its flagship discussion programme “Radio Link.”  Guests will include: The Honorable Minister of Health Professor Isaac Adewole; USAID Nigeria Director for Health, Population and Nutrition, Dr. Nancy Lowenthal; expert fistula surgeon, Professor Oladosu Ojengbede; Country Project Manager of EngenderHealth FC+, Chief Iyeme Efem. Later in the week, this live radio discussion will be complemented by a fistula and maternal health-specific edition of “Health Watch” a very popular network health programme on the same station.

At the state level in Ebonyi, Katsina, Oyo, and Sokoto, EngenderHealth and state governments will roll out additional awareness campaigns via government radio stations. These awareness campaigns will be broadcast in Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo languages.

In Oyo State, there will also be a fistula repair campaign to provide free fistula treatment to women living with fistula. This campaign will restore health to clients who receive repairs and contribute to the overall campaign to clear the large backlog of existing fistula cases in Nigeria.

In Sokoto, there will be a mini town hall meeting to enlighten and sensitize community leaders at the grass root level on the importance of prevention and treatment of obstetric fistula.

In Ebonyi State, community based organizations, school children, nursing and midwifery, key political stakeholders and the national fistula center will participate in a rally to create awareness on fistula prevention and treatment.  According to Chief Efem, “It is very fulfilling to see the collaboration between our project and community partners in sensitizing the public to prevent fistula and mobilization of clients to benefit from the free repair activities at sites supported by our project.

Furthermore, in Ebonyi state, EngenderHealth will collaborate with the state government on a public viewing of DRY, a movie on obstetric fistula, at the Government House in Abakaliki. The film, produced by Nollywood actress Stephanie Linus, is already a global award-winning movie. The Governor of Ebonyi State, His Excellency, Engr. Dave Umahi, will participate and declare the event open. Other notable personalities that will witness the event include the state’s commissioners, development partners, Extended Hands Foundation (led by Stephanie Linus), the media, community partners, and other key fistula stakeholders in Nigeria.

Stephanie Linus, producer and star of DRY, says, “To finally have a chance to share something so dear to my heart with my people is humbling. Watching and receiving the feedback of raw emotions reminds me of why this film is important and why my organization Extended Hands Foundation has so much work to do and now with this film, we can have the welcome support of moviegoers. It is a movement to change the lives of many young women who suffer from VVF.”

“EngenderHealth is poised to take advocacy to greater heights towards ensuring prevention and treatment of fistula in Nigeria – a morbidity suffered by women during child birth and as a result of other harmful traditional practices. The movie DRY will support these advocacies and help put fistula issues on the front burner of government’s collaboration with international development partners, local partners, as well as health professionals in their effort to eliminate fistula in Nigeria,” Chief Efem commented.

 

 

To learn more about the Fistula Care Plus project or obstetric fistula in Nigeria, please visit our website, www.fistulacare.org, or follow our Twitter account, @fistulacare.

Media Contacts: Eberechukwu Diokpo (08034500765); Email:eokeke@engenderhealth.org

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