Female genital schistosomiasis an emerging public health problem – Expert
By Lizzy Carr, Bauchi
A Public Health consultant with Gombe State University, Dr Ibrahim Rabiu has noted that female genital schistosomiasis is an emerging public health problem that affects women and girls endemic areas.
He was speaking at the 2022 annual general meeting annual general meeting and scientific conference organised by the Bauchi branch of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) held at the Specialist Hospital, Bauchi.
Dr Rabiu described female genital schistosomiasis as a disease condition where eggs laid by adult parasite migrate and become trapped in the genital organs such as ovaries fallopian tubes, uterus, cervix and vagina.
According to him, there are 56 million women and girls infected with the disease in sub Saharan Africa, adding that this occurs in up to 79% of women affected by schistosomiasis.
“Though in Nigeria the burden of Female genital schistosomiasis is not known, two studies on FGS have been carried out, and shows a rise in the number of reported cases even among girls as young as five years.
“It present itself through vagina discharge, vagina itching, lowered abdominal pain, discomfort during sex, post coital bleeding and bleeding in between menstrual period.
“The consequences of female genital schistosomiasis include infertility, abortion or ectopic pregnancy, genital ulcers, involuntary urination when coughing or laughing, depression, chronic pelvic pain,increased risk of HIV/HPV infections and tumour of the vulva, vagina and cervix.
“These are challenges due to lack of awareness, undiagnosed or under reported, and limitation in clinical diagnosis of FGS among even the health workers,” he said.
Dr Rabiu said the disease is treated with a single dose of praziquantel.
While identifying areas of endemic to include fishing and agriculture communities, places with poor access to portable water, poor sanitation and hygiene, Dr Rabiu called on government to provide potable water to endemic communities, and for people to avoid indiscriminate defecation.
In another presentation on “Medico-Legal Issues in clinical practice”, the State Chairman, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Barrister Jibrin called on health facilities to strengthen their internal mechanism in settling grievances from patients to prevent legal battles.
“You know the national health act has been signed to law and it provides that a patient has rights when accessing medical services even if he is a victim of gun shots. So you need to work in line with the provision of the act,” he said.
Declaring the AGM/ Scientific Conference open, Bauchi state governor, Bala Mohammed said the blueprint from the state health summit has given his administration direction on how to address the health challenges of the state.
He noted that government has started addressing some of these challenges that include renovation of general hospitals and engagement for medical personnel.
Represented by the executive chairman, Hospital Management Board, Dr Sambo Mohammed, the governor added that pre service medical students and retired medical doctors have been employed and sent to hospitals across the state.
He promised to continue to work with NMA to improve quality of care in the state.
The state chairman of NMA, Dr Adamu Sambo commended the state for given the association the opportunity to serve in health related boards and committees.
Sambo said the NMA has carried out medical outreaches in communities, held health talks in schools and communities as it’s contribution to the government’s quest to improve the quality of health care services.