International Day To End Obstetric Fistula 2022

May 31, 2022

The event was celebrated on the 23rd of May 2022.

Obstetric fistula most commonly occurs in poor, rural areas of Africa and Asia where the women affected live in dirt-floor dwellings, and lack access to running water and incontinence pads. Under these circumstances, a woman with fistula faces devastating physical and psychological consequences.

A vaginal fistula is an abnormal opening that connects your vagina to another organ, such as your bladder, colon or rectum. A doctor might describe the condition as a hole that allows stool or urine to pass through the vagina.

An obstetric fistula occurs when a woman withstands days of obstructed labor. The baby’s head is constantly pushing against her pelvic bone during contractions, preventing blood flow, and causing tissue to die.

A woman with a fistula, perpetually leaks urine and sometimes feces. She is often rejected by her husband and shunned by her village because of the foul smell and her inability to bear more children.

In most cases, a woman with a fistula doesn’t know what a fistula is or that it’s treatable with surgery. And even if she does, she is generally far from any hospital and doesn’t have money for, or access to transportation.

With the push by non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) and other groups fighting for the rights and acquisition of health care for women, conditions have improved, somewhat. Many doctors are now conducting health clinics where free surgery is offered for women with fistula. The cost of the surgery is far above what these women, could otherwise, afford.

Fistula forces a woman to stay indoors, so she will not face ridicule from the community around her. This unfortunately, also means, that she cannot get gainful employment and is forced to depend on good will from family members. Most of these women live alone and barely have enough to eat. The fistula clinics give hope and a second chance to these women.

Poverty is a very big contributor to fistula in Africa. Young girls are married off at an early age by their parents who are seeking income in the form of a dowry. These young girls’ bodies are not ready for child bearing, and when they go into labor, they suffer greatly. Unlike in developed countries where medical services and qualified doctors are readily available, in Africa, most deliveries are conducted by midwifes who are not qualified to handle emergencies. The clinics are also, not well equipped; many women and young girls die giving birth.

The health of women and young girls needs to be given the serious attention it requires. Each county should have a well-equipped hospital where emergency cesarean operations can be carried out, if necessary. No woman should die during child birth, and no woman should have to endure the shame of suffering with fistula.

Happy women after getting reconstructive surgery to fix fistula.

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