EndoSurvivors International Foundation (ESIF) a non-profit organization raising awareness about Endometriosis in Nigeria, has organized a symposium tagged ”Endometriosis Patient’s Day”. The webinar themed “Living Your Best Life with Endo” was attended by several endometriosis patients across the country with their families, healthcare professionals, medical students and the general public.
According to Mrs. Olivia Nwankudu the Founder of ESIF, this online event was held to demonstrate the NGO’s commitment to bringing to light the plight of Nigerian women living with endometriosis, while advocating for empathetic care for patients.
Endometriosis is a chronic gynecological disorder which affects approximately 1 in 10 women globally. In Nigeria, endometriosis accounts for about 30-40% of infertility cases among women and this data may be applicable in several countries. However, infertility is not the only problem associated with endometriosis. In an emotional presentation by the endometriosis patients who spoke at this program, the attendees learned that this disease transcends the dysmenorrhea and cyclical pain that most people may know of. Patients spoke about the debilitating co-morbidities of endometriosis like irritable bowels, fibroids, thoracic disease, ascites, chronic pain and even cardio-vascular issues to mention a few. Some patients narrated their ordeal with numerous endometriosis surgeries (yet without complete relief), the loss of organs like bowel, gall bladder, fallopian tubes, ovaries etc.
Why do Endometriosis patients suffer so much and why have several surgeries? Can this be averted? Dr. Edmond Edi-Osagie; the Medical Director of Aurora Reproductive HealthCare with clinics in Lagos and Manchester and Senior Consultant Gynaecologist and Endometriosis Specialist with the National Health Service (NHS) England, expounded on the different surgical techniques for managing endometriosis, with Class A evidence on the most effective technique being wide excision. In his enlightening presentation, he stated the various reasons why surgeries may fail and underscored the importance of patients to seek expert care when dealing with endometriosis.
Professor BosedeAfolabi; Head, Department of Obstetrics &Gynaecology in Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH)/College of Medicine of the University of Lagos shared some important tips to help endometriosis patients cope with their health in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. She also noted the challenge that endometriosis patients may encounter in accessing care during these times.
Dr. AnthoniaNte; Chief Clinical Psychologist at the University of Port-Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH) gave an eye-opening lecture on the association between endometriosis and mental health- particularly depression and anxiety. Caregivers of patients were encouraged to support them emotionally and financially as much as they can, in order to help endometriosis patients cope better with the condition.
The Director of Nursing Services, LUTH- Mrs Adeduntan Oyegoke spoke extensively on the urgent need for more awareness and education about the condition and how to take advantage of existing platforms for advocacy. The Endometriosis Patient’s Day event organized by ESIF was highly engaging and educative; participants commented on how impactful the event was and requested more of such programs to enlighten the general public about this enervating, life-altering condition- Endometriosis.