Speakers at the first virtual African Conference on Uterine Fibroid have called on African countries to allocate funds to a study on uterine fibroids, a public health burden in the region.
They explained that research investment was crucial to managing the scourge across the continent.
They added that in spite of the widespread occurrence, research deficit and lack of data on fibroids had created a gap that hindered evidence-based interventions and policy decisions in addressing the needs of women with the disease.
The speakers included the Team Lead for Reproductive, Maternal Health and Aging at the World Health Organisation African Regional Office (WHO, AFRO), Dr Triphonie Nkurunziza; Dr Chris Opoku Fofie of the Ghana Health Service (GHS); Dr Essam Othman of the University of Assiut, Egypt; a fertility specialist in Nigeria and the USA, Dr Prosper Igboeli; Dr John Jude Annan, School of Medicine and Dentistry, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi; Dr Daniel K. Yeboah, Hawa Memorial Saviour Hospital, Osiem, Ghana; Dr Al- Hendy, University of Chicago, USA, and Tanja Hohenester, Tigovit, Germany.
The conference was organised by the Fibroid Foundation Africa, Ghana Office, in partnership with the Campion Fund, USA, on the theme: “Uterine Fibroid: The Science, the Treatment and the Myths”.
It was attended by clinicians, researchers, policy makers and survivors from Tanzania, Cameroun, Senegal and Zimbabwe.
Speakers on uterine fibroid
At the conference, Dr Nkurunziza noted that the disease burden was generally high in Africa, afflicting over 40 per cent of women of child-bearing age.
She indicated that a lot of women suffered more significant morbidity and higher mortality rates from the disease because of delayed diagnosis and treatment.
“The delayed diagnosis results from social representation, ignorance on the part of patients, fear of intervention, lack of financial means and the recourse to traditional remedies,” she noted.
Dr Fofie indicated that uterine fibroid had featured among the top 10 causes of hospitalisation in GHS facilities across the country over the past five years.
“In a six-month review at the premier teaching hospital in Ghana, the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, 26 per cent of gynaecological admissions were fibroid issues. It is also the leading indication for gynaecological surgeries nationwide,” he said.
Dr Othman, for his part, urged patients and clinicians to change their mindset about surgeries, noting that there was over-utilisation of surgery in Egypt, which was the negative part of care for fibroids.
He, therefore, called on the medical community and patients to consider other non-surgical options.
Meanwhile, Dr Al-Hendy and Tanja Hohenester shared their findings on Green Tea Extract and Vitamin D as natural remedies for uterine fibroid, indicating that clinical trials had proved their effectiveness as long-term natural remedies for fibroid and the results documented.
Dr Igboeli, who has handled many fibroid cases, agreed to the use of Vitamin D and proposed a daily dose of Vitamin D supplementation from age 18 and above as a preventive strategy against fibroid development and growth.
Dr Annan, for his part, expressed concern over the negative impact of myths on the treatment-seeking behaviour of women with fibroid.
He emphasised the need for education and advocacy programmes to debunk the myths and save women from the activities of quack doctors and herbalists.
Participants in the conference called for the adoption of technology to increase early detection and treatment and also encourage inter-continental collaboration to advance research into natural remedies.