Oil Extraction Linked to Early Menopause in Bayelsa Women, Expert Reveals

By Afahame Bassey, BAYELSA

A medical expert, Dr. Bieye Briggs, has reported that pollution from crude oil extraction has adversely affected the reproductive health of over 56% of women in Bayelsa State and other Niger Delta regions.

Studies show that many women in this area experience early menopause, often before the age of 35.

Speaking at the public presentation of a research report on the impact of oil extraction on women’s health, organised by the Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre in Yenagoa, Bayelsa’s capital, Dr. Briggs highlighted the alarming levels of hydrocarbons found in women’s blood samples as the primary cause of these health issues.

The research focused on the Otuabagi community where Nigeria’s first oil was discovered in 1956, revealed significant reproductive health challenges among women, including stillbirths, immediate post-birth deaths, and premature births.

Noting that “Environmental pollution from crude oil is the major contributing factor.

“Many women acknowledge that oil exploration has adversely impacted their health.

“However, they are uncertain if multinational oil companies or the government have taken adequate measures, such as building and equipping hospitals, to address these health issues, she stated.

“Existing facilities lack necessary equipment and manpower,” Dr. Briggs added.

He further explained that many women suffer from respiratory issues like cough, nasal discharge, difficulty in breathing, and noisy breathing, likely caused by air pollution from gas flaring and artisanal crude oil refining in nearby communities”.

He added that most women do not seek hospital treatment for these symptoms.

The study found that all participating women had at least one Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH) in their blood, with concentrations far exceeding WHO and ATSDR limits.

This contamination is attributed to the ingestion of polluted food and water, as well as inhalation of polluted air.

Dr. Briggs called on the Federal Government and the National Oil Spill Detection and Remediation Agency (NOSDRA) to conduct a joint investigative visit to the Oloibiri oil well 2 in Otuabagi community.

He urged them to permanently seal the well that continues to spill crude into farmlands and rivers.

Dr. Emem Okon, Director of Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre, emphasised the importance of the event, held in commemoration of the 2024 World Environment Day, themed ‘Land Restoration, Desertification, and Drought Resilience.’

She urged multinational companies to restore ecosystems before their planned divestment.

“Through this event, we aim to amplify the stories of women, advocate for our rights, and demand necessary changes to protect our future.

“We call for compensation, land restoration, and health actions to resist death, poverty, and injustice,” Dr. Okon stated.

Chief Amangi Daniele, the Traditional Ruler of Otuabagi and Abu XI of Otuabagi, praised the efforts to address the longstanding suffering of the women and community.

He urged authorities to rectify the injustices done to the community that produced Nigeria’s first wealth

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