Ratidzai Ndhlovu, the Country Representative of the UN Population Fund, says no fewer than 800,000 women and girls are suffering from vaginal fistula in Nigeria.Ndhlovu made this known in interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Monday.
Besides, the UN official disclosed that 20,000 new cases of VVF were recorded annually in the country.
She said of the 20,000 new cases recorded in Nigeria, less than 5,000 fistula repairs were done annually.
According to her, 148,000 women and girls are awaiting surgery in different parts of the country.
Ndhlovu said more than 800 women die from pregnancy-related complications every day, adding that for every woman who dies, 20 or more are injured or disabled.
He said: “One of the most serious injuries of childbearing is obstetric fistula, a hole in the birth canal caused by prolonged, obstructed labour in the absence of timely and adequate medical care.
“Fistula has been virtually eliminated in industrialised nations.
“It is estimated that more than two million women and girls are still living with the condition in the developing world.
“However, the condition is preventable and, in most cases, can be repaired surgically.”
Ndhlovu said most women and girls living with fistula would never receive treatment because of lack of services or because the procedure is unaffordable.
NAN reports that May 23 is set aside by the UN as the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula annually.
The theme for the 2016 IDEOF is: “End fistula within a generation.”
Ndhlovu said the fund and all stakeholders are in agreement that it is a moral outrage and a human rights atrocity that fistula still exists in today’s world.
She added that the proclamation to “end fistula within a generation” is a global call for concrete actions to eradicate fistula once and for all.
Ndhlohu said as part of the global community the fund is committed to bringing hope to women and girls with fistula challenges and ensuring others do not suffer the same fate.
She said in an effort to end obstetric fistula in Nigeria, UNFPA had supported the Federal Ministry of Health in the development of Standard Practice for the management of obstetric fistula for doctors and nurses.
She added that the fund also assist in developing the National Strategic Framework for the elimination of obstetric fistula (2011-2015), and training of over 200 health workers in fistula management.
She said UNFPA had assisted in the training of over 200 health workers in fistula management.
The country representative said the fund had scaled up access to prevention, treatment and rehabilitation services.
“The fund had also supported with the provision of 6,412 free fistula treatment surgeries with 97 per cent success rate and socioeconomic rehabilitation of 775 women and girls,” she said.
Ndhlovu reiterated the commitment of the fund to eliminate fistula, stressing that eliminating fistula is a key element “we would ensure that no one is left behind”.
She urged stakeholders to integrate fistula into the national-level planning for the Sustainable Development Goals.
According to her, UNFPA Country and Regional Offices should take every opportunity to incorporate fistula into countries’ targets and indicators under the SDGs.