FG orders free fistula surgeries in tertiary hospitals
Cross River receives EngenderHealth team
OGOJA – The Federal government has directed all teaching hospitals and Federal Medical Centres in the country to wave payment of surgery and laboratory fees for all fistula patients who present for treatment at the hospitals
The National Coordinator of Fistula Project, Federal Ministry of Health, Chief Mrs. Ogunmayi Peters, made this known today at the General Hospital Ogoja, Cross Rivers State, during the flag-off of the hospital’s 16th obstetric fistula pooled effort repair.
Mrs. Peters, who represented the Federal Ministry of Health, said: “The letter has been signed and is being dispatched right now to all the teaching hospitals and Federal Medical Centres. This is being done in collaboration with Fistula Care Plus Project, which will take care of the provision of consumables and other necessities”, she said.
According to her, the directive takes effect immediately, as soon as it is received by the hospitals.
“Our able Minister who is a renown professor of obstetrics, is already a fistula surgeon and he has taken it as part of his priority to take care of vulnerable women, especially in the area of fistula and cancer cases,” she said.
Mrs Peters further disclosed that the minister has also approved the creation of a fistula desk in all the states.
“For now, we have about 16 fistula centres, we want to increase that to 36, in all the states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). This means that all the tertiary hospital will have a fistula centre.
“For training, we are collaborating with EngenderHealth, the implementing partners of Fistula Care Plus project, to train and retrain the nurses and doctors, so they in turn can also train others”, she said, adding that the federal budget for fistula has always been on the increase but the problem is about the release of funds.
Earlier, the Commissioner for Health, Cross Rivers State, Dr. Mrs. Inyang Asibong, in her speech, observed that the problem of fistula is an endemic situation, which is why the state now has a fistula desk in the ministry. She added that the governor of Cross River State, Prof. Ben Ayade, is very passionate about the health of women and children, and is committed to reducing the backlog cases of fistula in the state.
In his speech, the Chief Medical Officer, General Hospital Ogoja, Dr. Patrick Ubi appealed for support towards the new VVF block and renovation of the old units. He said the VVF centre had so far, carried out 500 obstetric fistula repairs through 18 pooled effort repair, since it started in November, 2011.
According to him, there is urgent need for renovation and expansion due to constant clients congestion. He said: “the proposed new VVF block, if completed, will accommodate consumable store, kitchen, internet services, physiotherapy and a theatre. Other needs in the unit include utility vehicle, provision of ten solar electric light pole and medical commodities.
In his reaction, the Country Manager EngenderHealth, Chief Iyeme Efem, said there is an ongoing discussion between his organisation and the Cross Rivers State government regarding the construction of a new fistula block. He however, assured the CMD, that the current block would be refurbished by the Fistula Care Plus Project.
“We’re excited about this repair. The last one was done in April this year. We will continue until our women are all repaired. Now people are beginning to see that there is no state without fistul and they are asking for a fistula centre. Hopefully, we will continue to open fistula centres until every state has a centre.”
At the event, women who had been repaired succesfully and had given birth afterward shared their success stories. The Fistula Coordinator, Ogoja General Hospital, Mr. Paul Njagu, said: “this is proof that women who have been repaired can have a normal life. People thought that if you’ve had fistula repair, that your own is over but this is not true. In this centre, we have had success stories”.