The term VESICOVAGINAL FISTULA (VVF) is a condition that is making wave in our society today. In Nigeria, over 800,000 women are living with it and about 20,000 women contract it yearly. We are made to believe that “underage marriage” and “pre-teen pregnancy” are the causes of VVF. Is this really the case? Or are there other major underlying causes of VVF that they are not bringing to our attention?
The answer is the latter. And here are those other causes which for whatever reason have gone overlooked.
Before I begin, let me define VVF for the benefit of those that are unaware. VVF is a health condition that occurs during prolonged labor during which the vessels and the tissues that lie in the birth canal compress causing them to lose their blood supply and develop holes. These holes are located between the bladder and anus thereby causing a leakage of both feces and urine which of course leads to a foul odor as a result of the incontrollable excretion.
Now back to the underlying causes:
Firstly, have we ever wondered why VVF is more common in poor and undeveloped communities? Or why major cities like Lagos and Abuja rarely have cases of VVF? This is because majority of those with the condition DO NOT have access to functioning health facilities so are forced to deliver their babies at home or in a quack hospital with UNSKILLED BIRTH ATTENDANTS or even UNATTENDED CHILDBIRTH. Such women are prone to not only VVF but also other complications and unfortunately without professional assistance or guidance.
The next cause which I already mentioned earlier is LACK OF ACCESS TO FUNCTIONING HEALH FACILITIES. Please note the words “LACK OF ACCESS”.
To the best of my knowledge, our country Nigeria is in no way giving these women much of a choice. After all, they do not provide access to functioning health facilities with the capability of carrying out operative deliveries (which by the way would utterly prevent VVF), yet they wonder why these women are delivered by unskilled birth attendants? What else would they have them do?
Or would they rather they died in search of a hospital that probably isn’t until the next major city? Hasn’t Nigeria as a country already inflicted these women with this disease before they even physically contract it? Why blame underage marriage and pre-teen pregnancy for VVF when it can be totally averted with adequate facilities in place?
The last overlooked cause which is the major contributory factor to VVF is the INABILITY OF PREGNANT WOMEN TO ATTEND ANTE-NATAL.
As we must know, our country Nigeria is very quick to blame everyone else for her problems. How can a country as great as Nigeria not provide free health care to pregnant women even in government hospitals? How else can we guarantee the future of tomorrow if importance is not given to those carrying the so called “future”?
We cannot overemphasize the importance of antenatal medications to a pregnant woman and her unborn child and since majority of these women in such poor communities cannot afford the medication from private hospitals, why can the Nigerian government not hand them out FREE OF CHARGE?
Don’t get me wrong, underage marriage and pre-teen pregnancy are also causes of VVF but my argument is that why does Nigeria choose to single out these two causes when there are other equally important and avoidable causes?
After all, if you take away underage marriage and pre-teen pregnancy, VVF will still fully be in existence. And that is where the problem lies!
Moreover, it takes a single reparative surgery to close those holes in the birth canal and prevent further leakage. How come our government has not taken measures all these years to assist these women with this surgical procedure so as to cure them of the disease rather than leave them wallowing in their present condition?
As a country, we need to focus more on proffering a permanent solution to this problem rather than dwelling on certain causes or stigmatizing specific religion and practices. We must focus more on educating our youths on the dangers of unskilled birth attendants and unattended childbirth as well as provide free supply of antenatal medications across the country and finally work on creating easier access to health facilities by building more hospitals and birth clinics across the country.
If we do all that successfully then there can now be talk of completely eradicating VVF from our society today. Otherwise, we would keep going round in circles like a mouse on a wheel.
OVER TO YOU:
Are there other causes of VVF we should know about?
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