Wednesday 27 January 2016

Joining the fight against Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF)

She would not let any of the visitors who had come to condole with her over the death of her baby see her. She did not want to see the shocking expression on people's faces and their difficult effort to withstand the stench coming from her body, a stench even she found difficult to withstand. Her husband has been caring the much he could but she could see the exasperation in his eyes while he attended to her. She felt suicidal. The whole pain and shame would have been a tad bit bearable if she had not lost her baby. The local midwife said she must have incurred the wrath of the gods hence the fate that befell her. The enlightened female teacher at the government-owned primary school in the neighbourhood had mentioned something like VVF and advised her to seek medical attention in the hospital few miles away. There was no way they could afford hospital bills now, her husband's crops failed and harvest was poor. The teacher came around again and insisted she visit the hospital even volunteering to accompany her. She also paid their transport fares to the hospital. One look at her, the gynecologist diagnosed VVF and referred her to another hospital where she was treated for free. Halima remembered almost taking her own life while the ordeal lasted. She has taken it upon herself to teach women around her about VVF and how to prevent it. She also tells sufferers that treatment is free.

Vesico Vaginal fistula (VVF) is said to be an abnormal tear that occurs between the bladder, Vesico and the vagina leading to uncontrolled discharge of urine and feces. It is usually caused by prolonged labour when the baby's head squashes the tissues of the mum's pelvis, cutting the blood flow and causing the affected tissue to die, leading to the development of a hole. Nigeria is said to have the highest occurrence in the world with about twelve thousand women developing it every year.

VVF seems more prevalent around ignorance and poverty. It is linked to prolonged labour, fear of Caesarean sections, violent rape and under-age pregnancy.Treatment which often involves surgery is free in designated hospitals spread around the country. Symptoms include severe abdominal pain and irritability of the bladder, urinary incontinence as well as a very strong smell 2 to 4 days after a traumatic childbirth.

No woman deserves to go through this heartbreaking and devastating condition. Wherever you see someone with a condition similar to that described, please direct the person to the nearest hospital, they would know the nearest VVF treatment center to direct the patient to. Twelve thousand sufferers every year may be a statistic, but behind every such statistic are humans; daughters, mothers, wives, sisters and friends.

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