Ten years ago some concerned persons came together to create awareness about a debilitating disease called ‘Endometriosis.’ Their objective was to bring to an end the pains and trauma of girls and women who suffer from endometriosis – an incurable gynaecological disorder that occurs when the endometrium (cells lining the uterus) grow in other areas of the body. They debut with the name – Endometriosis Support Group Nigeria (ESGN).
Since ESGN emerged in 2005, it has been at the forefront, actively lobbying for better outcomes, education and awareness, care, treatment options and support for women affected with the endometriosis condition.
Dr. Abayomi Ajayi, EndoMarch Country Affiliate Partner Representative and Lead Medical Consultant for ESGN said: “The cancer-like disease that causes extreme pain, possible infertility, organ dysfunction and failure as well as years of medical treatment gave us a lot of concern and led us to make the effort to raise awareness for this ignored disease hence the birth of ESGN in 2005.”
Penultimate week, ESGN marked the 10th year celebration of endometriosis advocacy in the country which was declared open by the Minister of Health, Dr. Khaliru Alhassan. The event received strong acceptance from members of the public who support the cause of relieving girls and women who go through the pains of the debilitating health disorder tagged: ‘Endo-pain.’ The programme was organised by Nordica Fertility Centre and Endometriosis Support Group Nigeria (ESGN) in collaboration with Diamond Bank Plc. The minister was represented by Dr. Olusegun Oyeniyi. At a breakfast forum held at Eko Hotels and Suites, Lagos, to mark the event, the minister said: “I commend the humanitarian insight behind the advocacy against endometriosis being carried on for a decade by Nordica Fertility Centre. A decade is a long time to carry on a fight; this shows determinations and passion.”
President of the Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria (SOGON), Professor Brian Adinma, said: “This event is held every year to create awareness and support for this highly nagging problem that has affected our women. SOGON will like to encourage the organisers and also join in solidarity in this fight.”
The high point of the breakfast forum was the cutting of the cake to mark the tenth anniversary. There are series of other activities to mark the event throughout the month. For instance, people from all walks of life thronged the streets in Lagos, as early as 8:30am penultimate Saturday, to participate in the EndoMarch 2015 to keep fit and at the same time create awareness about the scourge called endometriosis.
Dr. Ajayi, who is both the managing director of Nordica Fertility Centre and coordinator of ESGN, said the event named, ‘Million Women March for Endometriosis’ is so important because so few women understand endometriosis. We need this awareness so no woman feels confused or alone again.” The fertility expert further lamented that endometriosis is a cruel, crippling and incurable disease that affects an estimated one in eight women and girls. Yet, despite being so common, there is very little in the way of public awareness about the disease. He also said women and girls suffer in silence and risk losing their organs, pregnancies and fertility because of the scourge. Women even lose their jobs, friends and family support as a result of misunderstanding about this serious, yet invisible disease, he added. Ajayi warned that women should not be told that their pain is imaginary, normal and Ok. Rather, they should not be dismissed as ‘sensitive’ or ‘psychotic,’ and they should not be going through it alone.
He also observed: “Just as HIV, cancer, etc have gained a lot of awareness over the years, this crippling disease that impair women from attaining their goals needs to be silenced. We would like to offer seminars, counselling and free/rebated treatments to sufferers of this disorder. “Some call endometriosis the ‘invisible disease’ because it is found within the body but the symptoms of endometriosis can be broken down into three: pain, irregular bleeding and infertility.” Continuing, Dr. Ajayi said: “There are some who have endometriosis but it doesn’t progress and others have it and it regresses. The problem is that you don’t know which course it will run but the most definitive diagnosis for endometriosis is through a Laparoscopy. Any other way is suspicion and in some cases many might have a baby or two and can’t have anymore.”
There was an interactive workshop on endometriosis at the Nordica Fertility Centres in Asokoro, FCT, Abuja, Asaba, Delta State and Ikoyi, Lagos last weekend.
Also, the endometriosis worldwide march will take place in Washington DC, United States of America this Saturday and this includes a walk in the morning and an evening ball where supporters from all over the globe and members of the US government congregate to network and chart the way forward in giving a better life to endo sufferers.
This story was published in Newswatch Times on March 28, 2015.