FIBROID Treatment: Nigeria’s Advancements in the Health Sector
By Aishat M. Abisola
TECHDIGEST – Recently when I joined Image Merchants, the publishers of PRNigeria and Economic Confidential as an Intern, I was assigned the task of posting relevant reports on their new publication “Health Digest.”
It was while sourcing for health stories that my attention was drawn to a report about a health facility, the Nordica Fibroid Care Centre in Lagos where fibroid patients are treated with open surgery.
The word “Fibroid” excited my curiosity because both my mother and aunt had the condition and were treated outside Nigeria because they were both treated in Argentina and South Africa respectively, where they were living.
I am not quite aware of the circumstances regarding my aunt’s surgery, but I do remember how my mother’s surgery went. In September of 2014, she felt sharp pains in her stomach and decided to see a doctor that weekend. When she saw the doctor, who performed a scan and found pout that she had Uterine Fibroid, my mother was immediately asked to see a gynaecologist and she went to a hospital in Argentina called “Hospital Aleman.”
She chose the resident gynaecologist, Dr. Ernesto Garcia, for her surgical procedure which was called a Myectomy. She was advised not to eat anything on the day of her surgery. Her surgery took place a few days later and took no more than 2 to 3 hours long. She woke up as they were wheeling her back to her room. She spent two more days in the hospital just to make sure that everything went well and that her recovery period was quite fast.
Back to the article that I read online, I was impressed that the Nigerian health sector is witnessing improvements in health facilities, especially for women and children women who are suffering from various conditions.
I was even more surprised when I read that the fibroid treatment method used in Lagos was more advanced than the one my mother had. We were always told that the health sector was deteriorating in Nigeria, but this development influence my interest in health communication, especially on the latest development and innovation for healthy wellbeing.
There is no denying the fact that in the sector some medical facilities are being neglected while medical practitioners and health workers lack adequate tools, especially in public hospitals to cater for an increasing number of patients.
The impressive fibroid facility in Lagos has a highly advanced treatment procedure and a quick recovery time.
The procedure itself is called a High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU). It is non-invasive and uses ultrasound and high-intensity ultrasound waves to generate heat to target the fibroids and destroy them. This form of technology had been introduced in 2002 at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom. Ever since its introduction, this technology has been found in over 28 countries and regions over the globe with Nigeria now being one of them. HIFU has successfully treated over 150,000 cases of both benign and malignant tumours.
With the HIFU procedure, the recovery time is very short, and the patients can go back to their usual activities by the next day. There is no risk of blood loss, or damage to the organs or tissue, the usage of anaesthesia is minimal and there is a low risk of complications. HIFU also preserves fertility, so women who go through this procedure are able to conceive and have normal pregnancies afterwards. People who have adenomyosis, are not fit for surgery or wish to avoid it are eligible for the procedure.
There are a few things that should be taken into consideration before undergoing this procedure. Before each session, the patient should not have sex 3 days before the treatment. She must shave her pubic area and remove Intrauterine devices (IUDs), the small contraceptive devices that are inserted into the uterus (womb) to prevent pregnancy.
In addition, the patient should perform an enema to clean out the bowels and have a light diet 3 days before the procedure. A liquid diet the day before and won’t eat 8 hours before the procedure.
After each session, the patient is recommended to lie motionless for about two hours after treatment; she can have liquid food 2 hours after treatment and a normal diet can resume after 24 hours. She can insert the IUD after 3 menstrual cycles. She should follow up with an ultrasound and MRI scan which is advisable 3, 6 and 12 months after treatment.
With the cheering development in the Nigerian Health sector, there may not be any reasons to travel abroad for medical treatment. While other Nigerian doctors are leaving the country in droves and not many are left to care for the large population left behind to suffer, we must commend those staying behind to help our country.
Despite all the bad stories and developments, the cloud hanging above the health sector has begun to show its silver lining. The establishment of the Nordica Fibroid Care Centre shows that there are still Nigerian doctors sacrificing to ensure that the citizens get the best treatment at home. This goes to show that there is still hope for the Nigerian health sector even in the darkest of times. Nigerians will always rise above any issue.
Aishat M. Abisola
Wuye District Abuja