CHILD MARRIAGE, FGM

Curb retrogressive practices to reduce obstetric fistula

Condition occurs due to prolonged obstructed labour without treatment

In Summary

• Between 50,000 and 100,000 women worldwide develop obstetric fistula each year. 

• It is mostly associated with the poorest, most vulnerable and most marginalised women. 

Health CS Sicily Kariuki at Pumwani Hospital, Nairobi, on August 2 last year
END CHILD MARRIAGES, FGM: Health CS Sicily Kariuki at Pumwani Hospital, Nairobi, on August 2 last year
Image: KENNEDY NJERU

According to the World Health Organization, obstetric fistula is a hole between the birth canal and the bladder or rectum caused by prolonged obstructed labour without treatment.

This condition is mostly associated with the poorest, most vulnerable and most marginalised women and girls. This condition affects roughly two to three million women and girls across sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

Furthermore, it is estimated that each year, between 50,000 and 100,000 women worldwide develop obstetric fistula. Women and girls afflicted by this treatable and preventable condition lack the voluntary control over urination and defecation and as a result, face devastating social stigma, infection of the skin and kidney and even death if left untreated.

The lack of a prompt medical treatment ends up not only depriving them of their dignity and health but is also a violation of their rights. It is of importance to note that this condition can largely be avoided by ending child marriage or delaying the age of the first pregnancy, ending of retrogressive traditional practices such as female genital mutilation and ensuring access to affordable high-quality obstetric care, especially to poor and marginalised women.

As we marked the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula yesterday(May 23), both county and the national governments need to create more awareness on obstetric fistula by providing the highest attainable standard of healthcare, reproductive health included, as the Constitution stipulates. By doing so, we will be not only restoring their dignity and health back but also their rights.

No woman should have to die from unattended labour or early pregnancy when we have forces that can prevent it.

 

Kisumu