FIGHTING STIGMA

Fistula patients in Garissa to receive free treatment — NGO

Say some 185 fistula cases out of 399 have been successfully treated since 2019

In Summary

• “FGM is a dangerous cultural practice. I urge everyone in our communities to unite against FGM, so that we eradicate fistula,” Mohamed said.

• “We need to stop early marriages. Underage girls who are sometimes being married off to older men are not biologically ready to conceive and give birth,” Abdillahi said.

Fatuma Maalim a fistula activists speaking to the press in Garissa town during the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula celebration on Monday, May 23.
FIGHTING STIGMA: Fatuma Maalim a fistula activists speaking to the press in Garissa town during the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula celebration on Monday, May 23.
Image: STEPHEN ASTARIKO

An NGO is urging women suffering from fistula to come out and receive free treatment at the Garissa Referral Hospital.

The Women Education and Health for Development organisation in Garissa has partnered with the Ministry of Health and Fistula Foundation to create awareness and stop stigma against victims.

WOHED’s Antony Njoroge who spoke on Monday during the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula said fistula is treatable and can be corrected through surgery.

Obstetric fistula is an abnormal opening between a woman’s genital tract and her urinary tract or rectum.

The condition makes it impossible to hold urine or stool, victims suffer constant incontinence, shame, social segregation and health problems.

“Since 2019, we have had 399 fistula cases where 185 have been successfully treated,” Njoroge said.

Antony Njoroge from the Women Education and Health for Development organisation speaking to the press in Garissa town during the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula celebration on Monday, May 23.
FREE TREATMENT: Antony Njoroge from the Women Education and Health for Development organisation speaking to the press in Garissa town during the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula celebration on Monday, May 23.
Image: STEPHEN ASTARIKO

He however said they have been having challenges because some of the victims do not want to come out and receive treatment for fear of stigmatisation.

“We have to go to their homes and educate them on the importance of treatment before bringing them in for surgery,” Njoroge said.

Fatuma Maalim who leads community awareness through radios and community health volunteers said the organisation is creating a full campaign on the need to stop stigmatisation and allow fistula patients to go for medication.

Hafsa Mohamed however said some cultural practices such as FGM and early marriages are the leading causes of fistula.

“FGM is a dangerous cultural practice. I urge everyone in our communities to unite against FGM, so that we eradicate fistula,” she said.

Residents of Garissa and fistula activists during a procession to mark the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula on Monday, May 23.
END SHAME: Residents of Garissa and fistula activists during a procession to mark the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula on Monday, May 23.
Image: STEPHEN ASTARIKO

Mohamed said fistula is not a shame but a condition that comes as a result of prolonged labour, rape or FGM.

“We are urging those who are confined in their house to come out and receive treatment. You can start your life afresh after treatment,” she said.

Noor Abdillahi, an elder whose wife got fistula during the birth of their second child in 2004 said she received full treatment after medical interventions were made.

He said elders should help their wives and daughters who fall victims of fistula, instead of neglecting them and holding them in their houses.

“We need to stop early marriages. Underage girls who are sometimes being married off to older men are not biologically ready to conceive and give birth. It pushes their muscles beyond limit,” Abdillahi said.

(Edited by Bilha Makokha)

Hafsa Mohamed an activist speaking to the press in Garissa town during International Day to End Obstetric Fistula on Monday, May 23.
MEDICAL INTERVENTIONS: Hafsa Mohamed an activist speaking to the press in Garissa town during International Day to End Obstetric Fistula on Monday, May 23.
Image: STEPHEN ASTARIKO
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