Managing Director of Nordica Fertility Centre, Lagos, Dr. Abayomi Ajayi has appealed to the federal government and organised private sector players to expand the health insurance scheme to accommodate treatment and management of fibroid patients in Nigeria.
Ajayi said this recently at a press conference organized in celebration of the Fibroid Care Centre’s 2nd anniversary and the International Society of Minimally Invasive and Noninvasive Medicine (ISMINIM) Board Membership Nomination held recently in Lagos.
According to a 2010 World Health Organization report stated that Uterine fibroids affect between 20 – 25% of women, and close to 235 million women which represent 6.6% of the global women population are estimated to have been affected worldwide.
Ajayi said that uterine fibroids place a huge burden on women of reproductive age across the country. It represents an important subspecialty of pathology in women due to its relatively high prevalence and its significant impact on patient’s quality of life.
He noted that women basically experience greater or higher rates of mortality from fibroid disease possibly due to late presentation, access to care, and limited knowledge of uterine leiomyomata, and may die from complications of wrong disease management.
He stated further that improving the survival of women with fibroid will require a concerted effort to put up the necessary infrastructure and health insurance.
Ajayi pointed out that in a facility in Malaysia, some fibroid patients are been treated by the Health Management Organisation while in Nigeria, many of the patients come for treatment out of their pocket expenses.
He stated that the federal government and private sector should expand the health insurance scheme to accommodate patients with uterus fibroid so we can reduce mortality from fibroid and proper care can be given to patients.
The doctors lamented the spate of quark doctors managing fertility issues in Nigeria, which according to him calls for regulation of fertility treatment that is inclusive of stakeholders within the health sector.
“We want regulation to curb the practices of quack and inexperienced doctors, but the government cannot shelve a man’s head behind his back. The government needs professionals to be in the room for policy formation around fertility treatments in Nigeria”, he said.
He noted that we can throw away the baby with the bad water. We need to have some regulation, but it must be done properly.
The doctor posited further that the entrance of High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) into the treatment of Fibroids and endometriosis has been a game changer for many Nigerian women who suffer from these ailments.
Abayomi, the only black doctor who has just been nominated to the ISMIVS Board Membership, stated that uterine fibroid affects 70% to 80% of women before 50 years and its impact on their lives and the quality of their health. It affects their menses, they bleed in circles. It could also be associated with infertility, and many women live with it for a long time.
“I was a young doctor when a patient died after fibroid surgery. I was concerned about the treatment of fibroid, and I then hope we can one day treat fibroid without surgery. Today, it is possible to treat fibroids without surgery which is a propeller for us, and we embrace (HIFU), a new technology designed for treating fibroids without surgery”.
“HIFU treatment for fibroid patients is done within 1 to 2 hours and the next day, the patient can eat anything, and after 14 days, the patient can live her normal life. There is no blood transfusion, and doctors do not need to touch the patient at all as the software is used for the treatment”, he said.
Abayomi noted that in the last two years, the fertility centre had treated 324 cases without any inch at all. Although, we have had few complains.
The doctor stated further that in the next five years, we will be establishing the HIFU centres in another part of the country, adding that before the end of the year or next year, it should not be limited to Lagos as travelling is becoming difficult for patients.
On whether the treatment is affordable to Nigerian women suffering from uterine fibroid, he said that one of the banks has been very supportive. HIFU is not the only way to treat fibroid, some may have to do surgery but choosing the right hospital that is safe and can manage the condition is imperative.