Lagos residents took the streets in solidarity for girls and women undergoing pain and trauma of endometriosis – an incurable gynaecological disorder that occurs when the endometrium (cells lining the uterus) grow in other areas of the body, weekend.
Clad in bright yellow as well as black T-shirts, the participants marched the streets distributing leaflets designed to educate and inform the general public about the campaign against the debilitating disorder – endometriosis. The parade which drew attention of residents saw avid women and men chanting songs and different slogans: ‘STOP ‘Endo’ Pain. “Ask Me About Endo Pain”; “You are not alone. Take a stand for your wives, sisters, daughters, because it matters!” Women with the disorder readily feel pain, irregular bleeding and have problems getting pregnant. The Endomarch is a platform to educate, empower, and effect change to the devastating disorder.
The marching crowd were participants in the “Million Woman March for Endometriosis Worldwide”, tagged EndoMarch 2015 which kicked off at 9am from City Mall Onikan, Lagos through Awolowo Road, Ikoyi and terminated at The Lagoon Restaurant, Ozumba Mbadiwe Avenue, Victoria, Island. The EndoMarch on Saturday which was facilitated by the Endometriosis Support Group Nigeria (ESGN) a not-for-profit organisation (NGO) in conjunction with Nordica Fertility Centre, and Diamond Bank Plc was a continuation of the weeklong programme of the tenth year celebration of endometriosis advocacy. Some celebrities such as Funke Akindele also participated in the march against the cruel disorder, tagged, ‘Endo-pain.’
The Managing Director of Nordica Fertility Centre and organiser of the EndoMarch, Dr. Abayomi Ajayi, after the sports walk said “Being physically fit goes a long way to prevent ailments, which is why we are marching, jogging this early to keep the body in good shape because there is a strong relationship between keeping fit and good health. Aside from all that sports is a great way of bringing people together.” Organised annually to unite women/families globally by taking a stand against endometriosis, the EndoMarch programme seeks to create awareness about the scourge called Endometriosis. It also helps to improve the living standard for females both young and old and the society at large. Ajayi, who is also the EndoMarch Country Affiliate Partner Representative and Lead Medical Consultant for ESGN, further said the group through the EndoMarch programme has managed to increase awareness about the health disorder thereby providing support for girls and women living with it.
The obstetrician and gynaecologist said: “The Endometriosis walk termed ‘the Million Women March for endometriosis’ is an annual event which brings together people all over the world propagating the cause. We believe women should not suffer for 10 years before they are diagnosed. They should not be told that their pain is imaginary, normal and ok, they should not be dismissed as ‘sensitive’ or ‘psychotic,’ and they should not be going through it alone. “The Million Women March for Endometriosis is so important because only few women understand endometriosis. We need this awareness so no woman feels confused or alone again,” he added. He lamented: “This 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. We have since then been at the forefront, actively lobbying for better outcomes, education and awareness, care, treatment options and support for these women affected with the endometriosis condition.
Ajayi also said: “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. Due to this lack of awareness in both the general public, as well as with medical professionals, it takes on average of six to ten years of unnecessary suffering and countless visits to doctor after doctor before patients receive a correct diagnosis. “As a result, women and girls suffer in silence and risk losing their organs, their pregnancies, and their fertility. Women even lose their jobs, friends and family support as a result of misunderstanding about this serious, yet invisible disease. You will always hear both medical professionals and the public say…suck it up and the pain will be over in days…you will be fine, it’s natural…just pop a pain killer and go about your duties…oh stop your whining, that’s not an excuse to shirk your duties, etc,” he added.
An endometriosis survivor, Olamide Oluwatuyi, who gave an account of her experience with the disorder, said it all began at the age 12 for her when she attained menarche. “I experienced the disorder at an early age, but didn’t know what it was. I had very painful periods and didn’t know why. Nobody knew why. “This went on for several years and I did not find solution until last year when I met Dr. Ajayi. I almost diagnosed myself. The doctor was kind enough to talk to me and my greatest fear was confirmed. He gave me the awareness, and the hope for lasting treatment. “I went through surgery (laparoscopic surgery) that is really not as bad as people think. So when you experience this kind of pain from endometriosis, you need to get it investigated. It is not the end of the world.”
ESGN is the first and only organization focusing on this condition in Nigerian and the West African sub-region.
This story was published in Newswatch Times on March 19, 2015.