By Momodou Jarju
The Chairman of the National Assembly Select Committee on Health has said in an exclusive interview that his-led committee has taken interest on endometriosis- a disease/condition that affects women.
Ousman Sillah, who is also the Member for Banjul North, said endometriosis should be a matter of concern and something ought to be done to help raise awareness as well as find ways to help sufferers of the condition.
“I can assure you that I have taken interest and I will share it with my colleagues at the select committee on health to also equally take interest and then see what support we can give,” he said.
Sillah’s comments came after Foroyaa’s publication on Saturday via online and on Monday on the newspaper, in a detailed report about the disease in the country.
Endometriosis is a condition/disease that affects an estimated 1 in 10 women during their reproductive years (i.e. usually between the ages of 15 to 49), which is approximately 176 million women in the world and its causes and cure are unknown yet.
Endo Warriors- sufferers of endometriosis- have symptoms such as painful periods, painful ovulation, pain during or after sexual intercourse, heavy bleeding, chronic pelvic pain, fatigue, and infertility, and can impact on general physical, mental, social well-being.
The Gambia’s data deficit has made it difficult for one to ascertain the number of women who may be sufferers of endometriosis. But based on the global estimate of 1 in 10 women being a sufferer of the condition, hundreds of thousands of Gambian women could be enduring the condition without them knowing.
Speaking further, Sillah said the select committee would grant Let’s Fight Endo (an organisation based in Gambia and US) audience to discuss about the disease
“I understand from the story that it is yet to be documented. There is no data around the prevalence. But there is need for a study to be commissioned to determine the prevalence and also to sensitize the population. Just imagine a chair of the select committee on health do not hear about this until I saw the story. Of course there would be some members, who might have heard about it, but for me, I have to be frank, this is the first time I heard about this kind of disease,” he said.
The Gambian law maker said he understood from the Foroyaa article that the disease is very discomforting and painful.
“I understand it’s very traumatizing physically, psychologically and mentally and is affecting women. They said 1 out of every 10 women has it. So you can see the prevalence, you are talking about 10% of the (adult women) population of the world or 10% of (the adult women) population of The Gambia,” he said.
Sillah said 10% is not a small number, while the sufferers are bearing the pain. Thus, the PDOIS parliamentarian said the aforesaid endometriosis organisation will be invited before his-led committee to deliberate on the condition and tell them what they believe ought to be done by the government, national assembly, the public etc.
“We can help them in terms of coming up with laws, they have to advise us on what types of laws they need. We are not policy makers but we can encourage the executive- ministry of health- to come up with a policy around this disease and how to address it and also to start national sensitization so that people would become aware of it. And then if there is any need for resource allocation, they can tell us, and we will see how we can encourage the executive to make allocations for sensitization on this,” he said.