Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu, Health Reporter
A TOTAL of 717 women have benefitted from obstetric fistula repairs countrywide amid reports that 20 doctors have been trained to conduct the surgery.
Obstetric fistula is one of the most serious and tragic injuries that can occur during child birth and the two main types are VVF and rectal fistula.
VVF occurs when a woman struggles with labour for days without giving birth with the pressure of the baby’s head cutting off blood supply to delicate tissues causing a hole to form between the birth canal and the bladder.
Rectal fistula is an abnormal connection between the rectum and vagina, allowing gas or stool to pass into the vagina, which is caused by labour complications.
For a long time, the surgery was only offered once in three months at Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital and women had to travel from all over Zimbabwe to that one facility.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Ministry of Health and Child Care have been providing a free service to help alleviate the condition which affects four in 1 000 women.
In statement to mark International Day to End Obstetric Fistula which is commemorated on May 23 annually, UNFPA said it was working on demystifying traditional and religious myths around the condition.
“In Zimbabwe, UNFPA and its partners the Ministry of Health and Child Care and WAHA International have been providing free surgery for women with obstetric fistula at Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital and United Bulawayo Hospitals. As of December, 2019, a total of 717 women benefitted from the repair surgery,” said UNFPA.
“Treatment for obstetric fistula condition is surgery which requires specialised medical staff and well-equipped hospital. UNFPA working with the Ministry has facilitated the training of 20 and equipping of identified facilities to support fistula repairs. According to UNFPA, obstetric fistula effects include continuous leakage of urine and faeces; offensive odour from urine and faeces; infection of urinary system and sexual dysfunction.
“Women also suffer abandonment by family members, stigma, depression and isolation within the community. It is one of the most serious and tragic childbirth injuries.”
While it is reported that fistula has disappeared from the rest of the world, it is estimated that more than two million young women live with untreated obstetric fistula in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. — @thamamoe