Physically, emotionally, financially, socially traumatised
Women and girls with Vesicovagina Fistula (VVF) have continued to face rejection and humiliation because they leak urine and faeces which often produce offensive odour. But after they are repaired, they become the beautiful brides of their homes, writes UCHENNA INYA
Nneoma Azubuike, a beautiful young lady from Bende, Abia State, was among those that were successfully repaired at the NOFIC, Abakakaliki during the pool-effort campaign of the hospital. She had obstructed labour while delivering her baby, the baby is her first child. She had tear while delivering the baby and she developed VVF.
She told New Telegraph that she was in the hospital because of VVF. She said: “I was leaking urine seriously after giving birth. That baby is my first child. I had tear in my vaginal and anus after giving birth and I started leaking urine and feaces. I had obstructed labour but I have been repaired free of charge here and I pray God to bless the management and staff of this hospital.”
Another patient, Mrs. Ojoago Philips, from Kogi State had the same issue. She was also leaking urine repeatedly and passing through severe pains. “I am very happy for being repaired successful here. I was in serious pains, I was leaking urine and feaces.
I went to some hospitals and I was not treated. I was directed to this NOFIC Abakaliki by someone. I came here and got repaired. The time I came for the repair here, the thing was worse.
someone. I came here and got repaired. The time I came for the repair here, the thing was worse. The doctors and nurses in this hospital swung into action and I was immediately repaired. I was discharged and I went home. “Now, I came for a check-up and I have been certified free of this disease by the doctors. I thank God this, the doctors, nurses, the governor of this state and his wife that God has used to repair me.” Also at the hospital was Mrs. Florence Abba from Ebonyi State. She is a mother of four. She developed the ailment while giving birth to her fourth child. She has, however, been repaired. The woman recalled her ordeal. She said: “I have been repaired, I was leaking urine repeatedly. When I came here, I was operated upon and I am feeling good. I had this problem while delivering my fourth child, I have four children,” Abba said. Mrs. Ali Onyekachi is also from Ebonyi State. She had her own case while ………third child. However, while delivering the baby, she had obstructed labour and developed VVF. She was in pains and was leaking urine like every other sufferer before she was repaired. She said: “I was in pains before coming to this hospital. I was leaking urine repeatedly after giving birth and I came here for treatment. The baby is my third child. I have given birth to two children but only this particular one I just gave birth to is alive; the other two are dead. I am happy now because I have been repaired; I am no longer feeling pains and leaking urine. I thank those who God used and restored my health. I am very grateful.” Why we train, rehabilitate repair patients, by Umahi, hospital After the free repair of the women during the pool-effort campaign, they were trained and rehabilitated by wife of Ebonyi State governor, Mrs. Rachael Umahi, with the support from
Addressing the women during the closing ceremony of the fistula pool-effort repair campaign, the governor’s wife urged them to adhere strictly to medical advice offered them after being repaired to avoid suffering the ailment again.
She said: “The beautiful story is that the once fistula patients who lived in pains, misery and shame are today free. They can now gladly do their businesses and socialise with others freely and happily. The fact that they would no longer have a lingering thought of how to go about their fistula condition brings a new lease of life to these women and girls.
“The number of women repaired in this pool effort, the continuous repair of fistula clients together with other professional services provided by this hospital, has made NOFIC a centre of excellence in Nigeria. “For the repaired fistula patients, I charge you to keep strictly to all the words of advice given to you by the doctors and nurses. It is for your benefit.”
On his part, the Coordinator of Mrs. Umahi’s Family Succour and Upliftment Foundation pet project, Evangelist Chukwuma Elom, said the women were looking different and joy full her heart that out of the dust, God can use men to raise hope for people. “I want to thank NOFIC Medical Director and his team for repairing these women.
“Part of the pet project of the wife of the state governor is empowerment which is included in the rehabilitation of the repaired VVF patients. Family Succour is coming up with an immediate pool effort following the success achieved in the repair of these women.
“I want to thank the wife of the state governor for attracting UNFPA and the Spotlight Initiative that will be in this hospital very soon and that is the Gender-Based Violence Centre. It is the first in Ebonyi State.
There are only two states in the whole of South-East and South-South that were selected for this centre. So, soon, Gender- Based Violence Centre will come up in this hospital,” Elom said. The Head of the Department of Medical and Social Work of the Fistula centre, Mrs. Mighty-Chukwu Ifeoma, called for support of the survivors.
According to her, lack of support not only from husbands of VVF sufferers, the families and society, will be the hardest consequence to bear psychologically. She said: “Some of them even try to commit suicide because of their hopeless situation.
“The social implications for the Vesco-Vaginal Fistula patients are severe; both physical and social consequences are catastrophic. No escape is possible from the constant trickle of urine and constant ooze of stool 24 hours a day.
“These women become physically and morally offensive to their husbands, families, friends and neighbours. Indelibly stigmatised by their conditions, they are forced to the margins of society where they live a precarious existence, unable to earn a living except through begging or by the cheapest and most degrading acts of prostitution.
“Patients are mainly young, come from subsistence farming backgrounds, are often considered to have brought shame on their families, and frequently lose their husbands’ support, especially if their condition is longstanding.
Also, many of the VVF patients normally give birth to stillborn babies, thus leaving the woman childless. Childlessness in Africa especially Nigeria is obviously an important factor in marital breakdown. “The Vesico Vaginal Fistula patients are subjected to a life of isolation, and humiliating rejection by those who put them in the condition.
Often, even after the repair, they remain isolated, usually separated from their husbands, and unable to perform their field and household work. VVF leaves a woman physically, emotionally, financially and socially traumatised.”
According to Ifeoma, rehabilitation has always been part of the holistic care for the fistula patients after the repair. She added: “Most of the counselling messages with them are ‘you don’t have to do extraneous jobs, you don’t have to stay at a place for some time, you have to stay out of all the extraneous works for like six months’.
Majority of them are farmers, majority of them do a lot of extraneous works. We found it necessary that they need to have a skill that they can sit in their closet and do; they can sit at the coffers of their households and do something meaningful and still make little money at the end of the day. At least they can still sustain themselves considering the fact that so many of them are being rejected and dejected by their loved ones.
“So, this was borne out the passion, it was part of the mandate of this hospital that these women need to be rehabilitated and reintegrated back after their repairs and that is exactly what the wife of the governor, Mrs. Rachael Umahi, saw as an avenue to help these women.
We trained them on some liquid allied products; soap making, bleach and all that. We also trained them on concessionaries and I can tell you that the patients are very happy because they are going with these skills.
“After their training, the wife of the state governor will empower these women. The empowerment will be like a follow up on the skills they learned in this hospital and this is why we are doing needs assessment; we want to look at the ones that work well in their environment and they will be empowered with finance or raw materials which will be funded by wife of the governor. Through this, these women will go home stronger; they will go home like holistic human beings.
“After the repair, you have closed the tap from running, which is the fistula.
You have made them know that when they gain this economic empowerment which is a serious issue because you find out that once this issue of VVF happens, so many of them cannot do a lot of things but with this training and empowerment, they will go home with a lot of hope. And these are the things they can do at the comfort of their homes and make some money.
That is exactly what we are looking at the end of the whole thing. By the time they are supported with the empowerment packages by wife of the governor, they will go home and keep up with these skills.” One of the beneficiaries of the empowerment/training, Mrs. Emilia Emenu, from Rivers State, said the training would help in boosting her restaurant business.
She said: “I like this training because it is part of the ways of assisting us and making us self-reliant. Most of us who were repaired of this disease in this hospital had nothing doing but with this training, we will be self-employed and carter for ourselves when we return to our various homes.
“I was actually doing something before coming for this repair but this training I acquired here can help me a lot because it will boost my restaurant business which I was doing. If I prepare these snacks they taught us how to prepare in this training, I can put them in my show glasses, sell and make more money in my restaurant, if I start my business.”