school of social work

Health and Health Promotion

Combating vesico vaginal fistula in Northern Nigeria: The transformation of women’s health in Africa

Onolemhemhen, D. (2000). Combating veisco vaginal fistula in Northern Nigeria: The transformation of women's health in Africa. Social Development Issues, 22(2), 32-38.

Health is an important aspect of social development. In Africa the childbearing years are the most risky. Every year half of a million women die from complications of pregnancy or childbirth. Among the most serious maternal injuries from childbirth in Africa is vesico vaginal fistula (VVF).

VVF is created during delivery when the pressure for the baby's head damages the soft tissues of the vagina, causing a false passage between the vagina and bladder; incontinence follows. One hundred and twenty-seven fistula patients were interviewed at several health institutions in northern Nigeria. It was found that fistula patients were the poorest of the poor, few were educated, and they were in their early adolescence when they sustained the injury. Most had endured the injury for years without help due to and antipathy toward modern medicine. The low status of women in society was a key factor in placing women at risk of VVF. Recommendations for the prevention of this condition emphasized an elevation in the status of women through education and the elimination of early marriage.