The wife of Cross River State governor, Dr Linda Ayade, said the state is willing to assist with the feeding and rehabilitation of women undergoing fistula repairs at the General Hospital, Ogoja, Cross River state.
Dr Ayade, made this declaration on Thursday while receiving some delegates from EngenderHealth, implementers of USAID fistula Care Plus project, during a courtesy call at her office in Calabar.
She assured the team, of the state’s willingness to cooperate with them by supporting the free fistula pool effort repair.
“The reason why we are here is to make life better for people in Cross rivers, so we will assist in any way we can. As the wife of the state government, we will step in and see what we can do to help with feeding so that the women undergoing repair can do so without any hitches. I think this should not be a problem. We will step in and see what we can do to handle this, we will definitely go beyond this if need be”, she said.
Dr Ayade, who expressed shock over the high number of obstetric fistula cases in the state, commended the efforts of the USAID fistula care plus team, for the pool effort initiative.
“In my ignorance, I used to think that we really don’t have that high number of fistula cases, but from the statistics given now- that about four hundred repairs have been carried out since the inception of the fistula centre, and these are those that have been able to access help. This means that we have a lot of these cases here so we have to do something to alleviate the suffering of the people.
“What Fistula care plus is doing is very commendable and we appreciate you”, she said.
Earlier on, The Country Project Manager, EngenderHealth, Chief Iyeme Efem, had requested for the support of the Cross rivers state government in creating a budget line for fistula and the feeding of the women undergoing free fistula repair at the Ogoja general hospital.
“In order to make the fistula desk functional, the state will have to look at creating a budget line for fistula so that decisions on interventions can be made. And because most of the women that come for repair are indigent, they don’t have money to feed themselves, so we have to take the money we would have used for repair to feed these women. This reduces the number of repairs we would have done because we spend a lot of money in feeding these women. It costs about N800 per day to feed each woman for the two weeks duration, so we would like a situation where the state can come in and assist in the feeding”, he said.
The EngenderHealth Country Manager further requested that the teaching hospitals commence free fistula repairs, in accordance with the new directive by the minister of health.
“Right now we have two people that we have trained on fistula repairs in Cross-river teaching hospital but they are sitting there, not practising. During our last discussion with the Minister of health, he had agreed to wave off fees for fistula repairs at the teaching hospitals and this directive has been sent to all medical directors of teaching hospitals. So we are now looking at visiting the teaching hospitals to see how we can get them to comply with this directive”, he said.
In her response, the Cross River first lady assured of her willingness, to ensure that the fistula centre runs smoothly. She also expressed interest in rehabilitation of the women after surgery.
On rehabilitation, Chief Efem said his organisation is looking at getting the required skilled group which will be able to manage the rehabilitation. “we have the Institute of Social Works of Nigeria. We are trying to see about professionalising social works in Nigeria through counselling. Part of the counselling entails getting the women who have been repaired and are ready to give birth again, to do so at the centre where they were repaired- so they can get free elective CS. Also, for those who require skills we are looking at where in government they can be trained. There is a conference coming up in November in Abuja on rehabilitation, where agenda on rehabilitation will be discussed”, he added.
Other dignitaries at the meeting are; the Commissioner for Health, Cross Rivers State, Dr Mrs Inyang Asibong, and the State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr (Mrs) Betta Edu, who also gave their vote of thanks to Chief Efem and his team.
It would be recalled that last month, a pool effort was done in Ogoja with about 28 women repaired. According to the Chief Medical Officer, General Hospital Ogoja, Dr Patrick Ubi, The VVF centre had so far, carried out 500 obstetric fistula repairs through 18 pooled effort repair, since it started in November 2011, with support from the United State.