Poor health-seeking behavior, early marriage, delays in using health facility, delays in reaching health facility and poor health infrastructure has been attributed as the major factors that greatly affect the high case of obstetric fistula in the country.
Making this known is the Technical Adviser and Gynaecologist at Development Communications (DevComs) Network, Dr. Olalekan Olaniyan at the International Day to end obstetric fistula in Lagos.
According to him, “obstetric fistula is a hole in the birth canal caused by prolonged, obstructed labor due to lack of timely and adequate medical care, leaving the woman with devastating injury that renders her incontinent”
This condition that has harmed women physically, socially and economically, and often leads to isolation from families and communities has been said that to have affects about 2 million young women in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa according to World Health Organization report.
In a paper that was recently released to mark International women’s day by the Executive Director of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Dr. Babatunde Oshotimehin, said that about 20,000 girls below age 18 give birth in developing countries daily and nine in 10 of these births occur within marriage or union.
Oshotimehin said that Nigeria is one of such countries where child marriage and harmful traditional practices are common, while percentage of birth delivered in a health facility is 35.8% according to Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) preliminary report, 2013.
“64% of births take place at home and other places, due to several factors including; inability to afford health services, distance to health facility, concern there may not be a female provider, attitude of health workers amongst others” he stated.
Speaking on preventing obstetric fistula, Olaniyan calls on government to improve health systems and social infrastructure, in order to provide prompt caesarean session for women going through prolonged and obstructed labour. He also advocates for alleviation of poverty, illiteracy and end of harmful traditional practices.
He said that preventing and managing obstetric fistula will positively contribute to the Millennium Development Goal of improving maternal health.
Adding that “we must eliminate gender-based social and economic inequities, discourage early childbearing, promote education and human rights, and foster community participation”
In his own remark, the Media Officer of Development Communications Network Ayodele Adesanmi called on all stakeholders, including government, health workers, community members and the media to reducing stigmatization and violation of the rights of women leaving with fistula
By Seye Joseph