The Kaduna State Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) Centre at Gambo Sawaba General Hospital, Zaria, conducted free fistula repair surgeries on 63 patients between January and September 2022.
Dr Ado Zakari, the Director of Medical Services in the state’s Ministry of Health, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Zaria on Tuesday.
Zakari, the only surgeon at the centre, said that the feat was possible because of the consistent support from the state government, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Bashir Fistula Foundation.
He said that UNFPA supported the procurement of surgical consumables and post-operation drugs and supplies for the management of the VVF cases.
Zakari said that the centre has the potential of conducting 312 fistula surgeries annually with a dedicated surgeon and a steady supply of surgery consumables.
He described VVF, commonly known as obstetric fistula as “a hole between the vagina and rectum or bladder.”
It is caused by prolonged obstructed labour leaving a woman with uncontrolled urine, faeces or both.
The surgeon said that he was trained by Dr Kees Waldjk based in Holland.
He said Waldjk had often visited the centre to carry out repairs on severe cases.
Zakari, however, said that Waldjk had not returned to Nigeria since the onset of COVID-19.
“I have been the one conducting the surgery since then following the guidelines laid by Dr Waldjk.
” Over the years, I have gained some experience in operating even the severe cases with huge successes.
“Due to my responsibilities in the ministry, I squeeze time to be here once or twice a week and I conduct at least three surgeries on every visit.
“This means that if I can have two days in a week, I can repair between six and eight patients which will significantly reduce the backlog of those awaiting surgery.
“If my task is just at the centre, with a sustained supply of consumables for surgery, I can operate on as many as 312 survivors per annum at six cases per week,” he said.
According to Zakari, the rate of success, which stands at between 85 to 90 per cent, is changing the narratives of the survivors as some of the husbands who rejected them now accept and support them.
He explained that most of the patients were hitherto deserted by their husbands and some close relatives.
Zakari, however, said that husbands now accompany the patients to the facility following the success of the surgeries.
“We hardly record recurrence of VVF after repair because we track the survivors to see what they are doing and ask them to report to us when they become pregnant.
“We link them to the nearest primary healthcare facility for antenatal care and ask them to come to the centre when the pregnancy is seven months- old.
”This is to enable them to continue the antenatal care until delivery through a caesarean section,” he said.