Set up centres in hospitals to tackle menstrual illness, state urged

Medic says the chronic illness that can take seven years or more to diagnose

In Summary

There is a lack of infrastructure in the various hospitals to treat the disease.

A skills gap which has left gynecologists unaware of what symptoms to look out for as well as the best treatment methods. 

Tampons and pads.
Tampons and pads.

Female reproductive health experts want the government to put in place endometriosis centres in public hospitals.

Endometriosis is a condition characterised by symptoms ranging from unusual pelvic pain associated with menstruation or infertility. It is difficult to diagnose, especially by a medic who is unfamiliar with the symptoms.

On Friday, Dr Wanyoike Gichui, a gynecologist, obstetrician and University of Nairobi lecturer, said endometriosis is a very chronic illness that can take seven years or more to diagnose.

He said the disease affects one in every 10 women, translating into about 176 million women the world over.

Gichui spoke at a forum on endometriosis in Nairobi. He said more gynecologists should receive specialised training in dealing with the disease.

“The key challenge with the diagnosis of this is the fact that its symptoms are not as obvious or sometimes the lesions are extremely small. However, procedures such as MRI tests and ultrasounds are highly recommended to establish the wounds,” he said.

Dr Violet Okech, a psychiatrist, said endometriosis can ruin a patient's mental health. Research reveals that up to 50 per cent patients undergo depression, she said.

“With this in mind, it is paramount for caregivers who observe symptoms of depression and anxiety in the patients to encourage them to join support groups or seek professional help from psychologists or psychiatrists,” Okech said.

Dr Yamal Patel, a gynecologist and obstetrician said, “Treatment of endometriosis varies from patient to patient. We encourage gynecologists to ensure they advise their patients accordingly.

"It's important to ensure every treatment is tailored to the individual patient and for doctors to ensure that at the treatment stage they work as a multidisciplinary team incorporating other specialists such as psychologists and those that deal with pain management.”

Also discussed was infertility caused by endometriosis and the psychological effects of the condition.

The forum was hosted by Bayer East Africa in partnership with the Kenya Obstetrical and Gynecological Society. It brought together gynecologists, psychologists and fertility and pain management experts involved in the treatment and management of the condition.

(Edited by F'Orieny)

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