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Cross River proposes draft policy for fistula

The Cross River state assembly is to create an expenditure head for fistula care in a draft policy for its 2018 budget.

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Speaker of the assembly John Lebo disclosed the draft in Calabar during a visit by a team from Engender Health, which runs a US-funded Fistula Care-Plus project for treatment, prevention and rehabilitation of women living with fistula.

Lebo said, “One of the things you would do for us as a matter of urgency is to give us a draft policy and we will get the commissioner of health to adopt that policy and bring it along as they are presenting the budget for 2018.”

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“When we have a policy, it will be easy for us in identifying prevention, management, enlightenment and education or the control of fistula in Cross River State. With a policy, the programme in the budget can come out of it under its distinct head of expenditure. If you don’t do that, it means that the money is not tied to that project and they can use to buy vehicle or attend one training or the other,” he added.

Country manager for Engender Health Iyeme Efem, who briefed the legislator on the project’s work at the Ogoja General Hospital, said the project needed support through policy actions, budgetary allocations and material assistance.

More than 500 women living with fistula have undergone successful repair at the centre.

This August, surgeons working there created an anus for a nine-year-old girl born without one.

Lebo, who initially expressed surprise that fistula cases are being reported in the state however said that the team’s presentation was an eye opener on the prevalence of fistula all over the country and that the Assembly is compelled to do something urgently.

“My members will easily find this message of fistula marketable as part of their constituency projects and that would be easy if we can partner with the executive based on an existing policy,” he said.

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