Photo: A crossed of speakers at the event. From left to right; Dr. Firas, Counsel Essa Faal, Endo Warrior Fatou Jome (Tuta) and President Barrow’s wife Fatoumatta Bah-Barrow.
By Momodou Jarju
The fight against endometriosis- a condition that affects 1 in 10 women worldwide- has received a significant boost on Saturday 6th March, 2021, in The Gambia when the Let’s Fight Endo organisation marked its launch.
The aforesaid organisation embarked on an Awareness Walk campaign from Traffic Lights, Fajara to Westfield Monument.
For the past weeks (building towards the walk campaign and launching of the organization), there has been a proliferation of public endorsement via social media by prominent Gambians and other nationals of the fight against the condition.
Members of the Let’s Fight Endo organisation were joined by hundreds of people, including the wife of President Adama Barrow, TRRC Lead Counsel, Essa Faal, security officers among others. The Health Minister, Dr. Ahmadou Lamin Samateh joined the convergence at the monument.
In a laconic speech, the wife of President Adama Barrow, Madam Fatoumatta Bah- Barrow, said Gambians often feel reluctant to visit hospitals to know their health status. Thus, she urged Gambians to frequent hospitals to know their status, which would help them a lot, saying prevention is better than cure.
Madam Bah-Barrow said she has no diabetes, hypertension, and colostrum because she often engages in exercise because she wants to be a healthy person. She also told the Let’s Fight Endo team that anytime they need her service, they can write to their office and they will be there for Gambians.
“That is my work. I am not a government worker, I am the wife of the president, but anytime you need my service just inform me and I will be there,” she said.
Lead Counsel Faal admitted that he is oblivious of the disease and a lot of people in the society suffer the same fate with him. Faal thanked the organisation for raising awareness about the disease. “Today I have learnt a lot,” he said.
He said, after listening to Fatou Jome (Tuta), an Endo Warrior and founder of Let’s Fight Endo organisation, who took a deep dive about the ordeal she endured in the past years, he was deeply moved.
“I was deeply touched by the experiences that they explained. But also, to a large extent, some of these experiences are things that we live with on a daily basis. But simply we cannot put a tag to it, we don’t know what it is,” he said.
Faal also said there are lots of women in The Gambia who cannot bear children and people tend to cast them aside, mainly by the men.
“We (men) think less of them. We blame them. We cast them aside. But we are not alone also. Our mothers too, especially if you are a mother-in-law and you know the wife of your son can’t bear a child, you lead the way and the sisters also. And all they do, they push aside and lead the son to a different direction,” he said.
Ndey Penda Njie, Gambia Country Coordinator of Let’s Fight Endo, who is also an Endo Warrior, said their organisation is not aimed at victimizing women enduring the condition. Speaking in Wolof language, she said they are actually showing people that they are strong women and warriors, but not on the contrary.
Madam Njie said the organisation is just a baby and she therefore urged the participants at the launch ceremony to spread the message about endometriosis and their organisation.
“The population, men especially try and reduce the stigma. It does not mean a woman who got married six times is a victim or she is bad. For me, ‘I am 1 woman but I am 10’. And I will not relent to make sure every Gambian woman and/or African woman will not go through what I go through,” she said.
Photo: Free up session at the Westfield Monument after the walk campaign.
Madam Njie was diagnosed in 2014 that she has endometriosis. The 35-year-old married woman has been enduring pain since she was 14 and it took her 15 years before she knew what was bothering her all this while.
Fatou Jome (Tuta), an Endo Warrior and founder of Let’s Fight Endo organisation, said she founded the organisation so that they can use their voices to fight and educate the general public about the disease.
“I formed Let’s Fight Endo to help women in Africa who are suffering from the disease, like me, to help them with medical treatment, diagnosis and also to educate the husbands who have no idea how to help their wives who are suffering from the disease, Tuta said.
Dr. Firas Alireqsous, Obstetric and Gynecologist Consultant, gave a detail talk about endometriosis and its prevalence around world affecting over 170 million women. He said the diagnostic for the disease last for 10 years on average.
“The women they have symptoms, they have signs of they endometriosis but the delay of the diagnostic, it last for on average 10 years,” he said.
Dr. Firas said the delay in diagnostic of the disease used to be before, but for now, he said they have lots of diagnostic operations and tests.
Photo: Health Minister, Dr. Samateh speaking at the event.
Health Minister, Dr. Samateh, highlighted some of the challenges Endo Warriors face with their spouses as well as with their families. He said the support from the men is very low.
“But I think the society needs to pay a very big attention especially the consequences for those women who experience the consequences of endometriosis, especially the infertility,” he said.
He said the take-away message from the campaign walk ought to be men standing by their women to fight against endometriosis to ameliorate the challenges that affected the women face.
“The government is doing all what it can to support the women and to strengthen the reproductive health services of this country. I am happy to tell you, that the director of health services is a consultant obstetrician gynecologist. So that gives hope because that means we have people at the helm of affairs who actually understand these challenges,” he said.
The government has strengthened the reproductive maternal neo-natal adolescence and child health unit of the ministry of health which is now also headed by an obstetrician gynecologist, so that these people are given the attention that they need. Now, the Endo Warriors I am happy to tell you here that we have gotten you a focal point at that unit to facilitate you activities,” he said.