Obstetric Fistula Cases Still Go Unreported

2992 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Of 200,000 Ugandan women with fistula, only 3% ever seek treatment. These are the odds Uganda is battling against as it marks another International Fistula Day.

As the world marked the International Fistula Day on 23rd May, doctors in obstetric surgery were concerned that many women in Uganda are shying away from seeking medical care for fistula.
 
 Dr. Susan Obore a fistula surgeon at the Mulago National Referral Hospital Fistula Clinic explains that most fistulas are caused by childbirth lasting more than 24 hours.
 
Frequently, these cases go unreported especially among women who give birth outside health facilities.
 
The 2011-2016 National Fistula Strategic Report of the Ministry of Health, points out that out of the estimated 200,000 women with fistula, less than 3% have sought care.
 
Dr. Obore explains that a fistula is an abnormal opening between the vagina and the bladder which results in constant leakage of urine and faeces.
 
 She says at the clinic the women are examined and taken through a correctional surgery.
 
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Annette Kyarimpa, Coordinator Maternal health at Reproductive Health Uganda, explains that although causes of fistula always point to obstructed labour, there are circumstances where a tear can occur when a woman is raped, a young girl is defiled or through clandestine abortions.
 
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Twelve year old Beatrice Kibirango (not real names) did not understand why she could not control her urine. Her classmates started avoiding her because of the foul smell, she became withdrawn and soon her grades dropped.
 
Her family was alarmed, until they discovered that Kibirango had been defiled by a close relative when she was only 7. Dr. Obore explains that Kibirango has a vaginal tear that prevents her from controlling urine flow.
 
Uganda Radio Network met Kibirango with her auntie Edith at Mulago fistula clinic’s. Karongo says her niece stayed with the condition for five years, until she took her to the clinic.
 
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According to information from the Ministry of Health,a typical victim of this glaring condition is a young girl that is poor, illiterate and from a rural area.
 
Sadly the available statistics are based on 2006 findings of the Demographic Health survey (UDHS), which shows that 2.63% of women of reproductive age reported to have experienced symptoms of obstetric fistula immediately after birth.
 
Such cases are similar to that of the 26 year old Nabugudde Sumini.
 
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 Other Fistula clinics are located in Gulu, Mbarara, Soroti, Arua, Mbale, Masaka, Kamuli, Kasese among others.
 
Doctors advise delaying child birth among young girls, attending antenatal clinics, delivering in health facilities and reporting cases of sexual abuse as ways to try to address fistula complications.