Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Experts have made a strong case for women’s health to be accorded priority and better funding as a component of the national health policy. The advocacy comes as 100 women in Rivers State benefitted from free surgery to remove fibroids from their wombs last Saturday.
The surgical operation was part of a free medical outreach organised by the O.B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation, in partnership with the state chapter of the Medical Women Association of Nigeria (MWAN), Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, and its University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) counterpart.
Former chairperson of MWAN in the state, Dr. Rosemary Ogu, urged government to judiciously expend resources on promoting the health of women in view of their crucial roles as wives and mothers to the sustenance of the population and national development.
Specifically, she called for health awareness campaign, especially on reproductive health, to be intensified to reduce risks, as well as maternal and child mortality rates, which, she observed, were still unacceptably high.
Ogu, a consultant gynaecologist, who led a 25-man team from UNIPORT to perform the free treatment, cited uterine fibroid as one of the ailments that not only caused women pain but also robbed them of joy. According to her, the condition affects 50 per cent of the population of reproductive age and could cause childlessness, miscarriage, excessive menstrual bleeding and severe pain.
The MWAN boss said, although many patients were afraid of dying during surgery, the condition could be easily treated without any harm to them, if they present early for treatment and only to qualified professionals and facilities with requisite skills and equipment.
Against the backdrop of the cost of surgery put at N300,000, Ogu lauded the O.B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation’s founder and visioner, Dr. (Mrs.) Seinye O.B. Lulu-Briggs, for footing the bills for the medical outreach, which also featured free consultation, screening and health talk.
Coordinator of programmes, O.B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation, Mrs. Ineba Tongam, said the medical mission was a follow-up on an earlier edition in Bakana community in which 22 women were found to have fibroid during a general screening. She said the foundation decided to focus on women and uterine fibroids this time, after a review of the previous edition of the programme showed a disturbing prevalence of the condition.
“We realised that, for every case of diagnosed fibroid, there are still about a thousand more,” she said, stressing that the philanthropic organisation hoped to partner with government to reach out to a lot more of the sufferers.
The coordinator said the foundation, which has in the last 18 years also empowered thousands of youths and micro-business schemes, rehabilitated schools and awarded scholarship to students, has been trying to push a bill for special care and attention to the elderly in the state, 500 of whom have enjoyed free feeding, medical treatment and recreational facilities under its “Care for the Elderly Programme.”