The Federal Government has mandated all federal-owned hospitals to offer free surgical repairs for women living with obstetric fistula. Fistula is an abnormal hole that forms in the vagina caused by prolonged, obstructed labour during childbirth. Minister of Health Prof Isaac Adewole said this in Ogoja, Cross River at the start of the latest pooled repair for women living with the condition. By this, teaching hospitals and federal medical centres will be required to waive surgery charges and laboratory test fees for women who present for fistula treatment. Speaking on behalf of the minister, the national coordinator of fistula care at the health ministry, Ogunmayi Peters, said, “The letter has been signed and is being dispatched right now to all the teaching hospitals and Federal Medical Centres. “This is being done in collaboration with Fistula Care Plus Project, who will take care of the provision of consumables and other necessities,” she said. The pooled effort at Ogoja General Hospital is the 16 at the centre, and the third in recent weeks as surgeons and nurses move from centres in Ilesa to Kwara and Zamfara to repair hundreds of women. Adewole, an obstetrician and gynaecologist, joined in surgery at the Wesley Guild Hospital in Ilesa, and has already declared fistula and cancer a priority mandate for the ministry. “For now we have about 16 fistula centres; we want to increase that to 36, in all the states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT),” Ogunmayi said. The ministry is collaborating with Engender Health, which implements the Fistula Care Plus, to train nurses and surgeons in fistula care.

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