In 1998 The National Lottery Charities Board and the Department for International Development agreed to fund a 3-year women’s health project entitled A Pilot Project on Women’s Health and Development in Dambatta, Kano State, Northern Nigeria. The project aims to raise the level of women’s health, economic, social and nutritional status to enable them to participate on the sustainable development process in Dambatta. This holistic approach to improve the overall status of women is necessary to resolve the socio-economic dimensions of women’s health problems including VVF.
FORWARD Nigeria has now been established for over a year and is enjoying a great deal of success. A number of advocacy materials have been developed to raise awareness of the project. Radio jingles and pamphlets were used to educate the general community about Vesico Vaginal Fistulae (VVF). Information posters are also being used to teach communities about the focus of the project and a video drama has also been produced which will be shown in a number of villages.
Activities at the Rehabilitation Centre
A curriculum for adult literacy classes and vocational training has been developed and is being used for literacy classes in the rehabilitation centre. All of the women who enrolled in the project were illiterate at first and they are now, after one year able to read and write. They are also able to do basic arithmetic, in preparation for bookkeeping lessons, which will form part of planned business activities.
Vocational training has also started at the centre, a number of extension workers are involved in teaching the women various skills such as livestock rearing, sewing, knitting, soap making as means of income generation when they are reintegrated into their communities. The women have also learnt skills, which will allow them to establish community development groups in their villages where they will be able to teach other women the skills they have learnt at the centre.
The centre now has a livestock and poultry farm and an orchard. The women are fully involved in keeping and rearing animals and plants. Some of the food is used for subsistence and some is sold in the community.
In 85% of the cases surgical repair of the fistulae has been successful. In most cases the women have had 4-5 surgeries which have been unsuccessful. It is hoped that with improved physical and mental health provided at the centre the surgery will have greater success.