UNFPA, Sokoto govt. train 70 Imams, others on VVF prevention, management



The Sokoto state Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, in collaboration with the United Nations Population Funds (UNFPA), on Saturday trained 70 husbands and Imams on prevention and management of Vesico Vagina Fistula (VVF).

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that other participants were community leaders and local government Directors of Social departments in Tangaza, Bodinga, Binji and Sokoto North, supported by EU-UN Spotlight Initiative Project.

UNFPA’s Umar Idris said the programme was aimed at building the capacity of the participants on ways to prevent VVF, as well as sensitize them on issues of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV), Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG), Harmful Practice (HP) and Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR).

VVF is an abnormal communication between bladder and vagina that leads to continuous, uncontrollable leakages of urine/faeces, few days after child birth. The condition results in persistent smell of urine, with consequent social effects such as stigmatization, low self esteem and depression.

In his presentation, District Head of Gagi, Alhaji Sani Umar-Jabbi, who was a Resource Person at the event, said husbands were selected in recognition of their roles as family heads to allow women to participate and be empowered, adding that the role of the Imams was to deliver messages in mosque and other ceremonies, in support of women’s participation.

As for Directors of local government Social departments, he said they were expected to make informed decisions on the survival of women and children, while community heads would work towards improving the current poor responses as well as accepting localized interventions.

According to him, Sokoto state, with a population of about 5 million, and an estimated 300,000 pregnancies annually, had about 95 per cent of women giving birth at home.

Another Resource Person, Dr Bello Lawal, the Chief Medical Director of Maryam Abacha Women and Children Hospital, Sokoto, said 90 per cent of VVF occurrences in the state were in women aged between 10 to 18, with 61 per cent of the patients being full-time house wives.

He cited obstructed labor, early marriages, Female Genital Mutilation, lack of adequate child spacing, rape and delays in specialized treatment, as being the main causes of VVF occurrence.

Lawal noted that fistula is a serious sociocultural, socioeconomic and developmental problem, that affects the whole society, explaining that in his hospital no fewer than 1, 272 VVF patients were admitted from 2015 to 2019, with 1, 086 undergoing repair surgeries.

The Chief Medical Director said eradicating fistula would require short and long term measures, with interventions on treatment, rehabilitation and re-integration that require community mobilization and sensitizations.

According to him, in 2016 and 2017 no fewer than 427 fistula patients were rehabilitated and re-integrated into their communities, after they received skills training and working tools.

A participant at the training, Malam Mustapha Sidi, expressed appreciation over the programme, while reminding husbands, Imams and traditional leaders about their legitimate responsibilities to fistula patients.

“if you still think bad of any developmental activity that comes from the West, stop using cell phones, trek to Makkah, don’t use the plane, stop wearing garment made in Germany, or just accept the facts and let your children go to school.

” Let your wives go to the hospital, so as to have proper treatment when giving birth, to help prevent VVF and other HP”, Sidi counselled the people.

He said lack of sustainability in projects implemented in the state, training of Traditional Birth Attendants, religious and traditional leaders mixing up religion with traditions, were major challenges to handling issues relating to VVF conditions. (NAN)