HEALTHCARE

Obstetric Fistula Day: Invest in quality healthcare to fight menace

Obstetric fistula is one of the most serious and tragic childbirth injuries

In Summary

• According to World Health Organization, obstetric fistula affects up to 100,000 women annually

• Only one in 50 ever receives treatment for this condition globally.

Women with fistula are subject to severe social stigma due to odour, which is constant and humiliating
Women with fistula are subject to severe social stigma due to odour, which is constant and humiliating
Image: FILE

On May 23, the world marks International Obstetric Fistula Day.

Marking this day promotes action towards treating and preventing obstetric fistula, a condition that affects many girls and women. Obstetric Fistula is simply an abnormal opening between women's genital tract and their rectum.The first observance was in 2013 and it has been celebrated annually to date. This year, the theme is, 'End Fistula Now: Invest in quality healthcare, empower communities'.

According to World Health Organization, obstetric fistula affects up to 100,000 women annually and it's more vulnerable to women who live are under poverty. Only one in 50 ever receives treatment for this condition globally. The above statistical analysis shows that indeed, this condition is not more local but a global public health concern. Prevention and treatment of this condition has not been prioritised in many states despite affecting mass Kenya no exceptional.

One of the primary and major cause of fistula is obstructed labour unborn baby is physically blocked from exiting the pelvic. This leaves women to leak urine and feaces if left untreated can lead to infection, diseases and making the matter worse it can result to infertility. The other causes of obstetric fistula is prolonged labor, poor access to medical care, teenage pregnancies and malnutrition, just to mention but a few.

Obstetric fistula is one of the most serious and tragic childbirth injuries that have been left unsolved despite it's underlying maternal and human right issue. Kenya has been making slow efforts in addressing this worrying condition.

Women who are living with this condition face stigma, isolation, suffer from mental health issues, are discriminated against in employment opportunities and sometimes are abused either by their husbands or society and poverty. This is not the first time nor the second time one hears about husbands and families abandoning these women. It has been a repeated experience.

It is high time that states, including Kenya, to invest in quality healthcare so that we can fight this menace. Preventing and managing obstetric fistula contribute to the SDG 3 of improving maternal health. The government through the Ministry Health should ensure maternal healthcare is close to the community so that women can easily access and receive immediate attention.

There should be allocation of enough funds to improve the healthcare, especially to services that are meant for women with this condition.

Communication and media student at Rongo University and journalist at Redio Yetu Nakuru