UHC NHIA Obstetric Fistula
National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA)

Nigeria Records 13,000 New Fistula Cases Each Year — Federal Gov’t

The Director-General National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), Dr. Kelechi Ohiri has disclosed that about 13,000 women in Nigeria come down with obstetric fistula each year.

Dr Ohiri also revealed that there is a huge backlog of unrepaired obstetric fistula cases in the country, saying it might take up to 83 years to close the backlog.

The DG disclosed this during the flag off of the NHIA Fistula-Free Intervention and inauguration of Steering Committee for the programme by the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Mohammed Ali Pate on Tuesday in Abuja.

He said Nigeria accounts for 7.5 percent of the two million people living with unrepaired obstetric fistula globally.

“Globally, roughly two million people live with unrepaired obstetric fistula. Roughly, one million are in developing countries and about 100,000 affected by offsetting slavery.

“Here in Nigeria, we account for about 7.5 percent of that number. We have roughly 13,000 new cases each year and given the backlog because of lack of financial access. At the current rate, if we do not intervene, it might take up to 83 years to actually close the backlog,” he said.

Obstetric fistula is a complication, causing an abnormal hole between the bladder and vagina which results in uncontrolled, continuous leakage of urine through the vagina.

Ohiri said that the role of the NHIA through the vulnerable group fund is to ensure that the definitive care treatments for these women are affordable, adding that the aim is also to reduce physical and financial pain.

He said the intervention falls within the pillar of equity, which is among the NHIA’s four pillars of focus and of coverage of equity and efficiency.

“And within the pillar of equity is where this is situated, where we’re looking at the design of the vulnerable fund to prioritise equity and enhance safety nets for the poor and vulnerable.

“The first phase we intend to start with the National Obstetric Fistula Centres. There are four of them in the country: Katsina, Bauchi, Ebonyi and Edo. And in the second phase of this, we hope to expand it to other hospitals that provide fistula care but are not necessarily designated for fistula care only.

“Beyond the treatments, the plan is also to ensure that they are enrolled into a social health insurance programme that will cater to them so that we can build sustainability to the outcomes that we have achieved,” he explained.

Earlier, the Coordinating Miinister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Pate, commended the NHIA for the programme which is about affordability of care for women who suffer from the consequences of childbirth, leading to fistula.

The minister noted that the country has a burden of maternal morbidity and mortality, saying “When you go all over the country, you see a lot of young woman, adolescents, woman who for one reason or the other, had intensive care or sometimes general care, come to deliver and have complications. But when they have fistula, they tend to be left behind.”