Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu – [email protected]
MORE than 900 women have had their obstetric fistulas repaired in Zimbabwe through Government efforts with support from donors as the service is now available at five health institutions countrywide.
Obstetric fistula is one of the most serious and tragic injuries that occur as a result of poor management of labour and subsequently difficult childbirth.
It is a tear that occurs between the birth canal and the bladder and or rectum and leaves women leaking urine, faeces or both.
As a result, it leads to social rejection, and or subsequent medical complications with infection occurring easily.
Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world in commemorating International Day to End Obstetric Fistula on Tuesday with calls for every affected woman to speak out and get the service which is available free of charge courtesy of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and other partners.
“To date, 977 women have benefited from concerted efforts by the Ministry of Health and Child Care together with partners to end obstetric fistula. The Government of Zimbabwe is offering free surgery to women with obstetric fistula, a childbirth injury that can cause incontinence. The surgery is available at five hospitals in the country: Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital, Mashoko Christian Hospital, Morgenster Mission Hospital, Mutambara Mission Hospital, and Chidamoyo Christian Hospital,” said Dr Lucia Gondongwe, Deputy Director for Reproductive Health in the Ministry.
“We are calling on all women who have obstetric fistula to come forward and get the surgery.”
UNFPA said if not treated timely, obstetric fistulas also cause psychological or mental trauma, and eventual death.
“The hole is caused by prolonged or obstructed labour in the birth pathway, for various reasons, due to a pelvis that is not expanding wide enough, to allow the baby to come out. Without timely access to assisted birth through emergency obstetric care, notably a Caesarian section, fistula occurs,” said UNFPA in a statement.
“Women and girls with fistula are often ostracised in society because of the unaccepted odour and endure depression and poverty because they cannot work in public with the condition. Many are abandoned by their sexual partners or husbands and families, further driving them into poverty. Their isolation means they often go unnoticed by family, community as well as policymakers and as a result, little action in the past was taken to address their condition.”
UNFPA in Zimbabwe has been working with the Ministry and other partners on the Campaign to End Obstetric Fistula in Zimbabwe since 2015.
This has been through the support of the Health Development Fund with financial support from the governments of Britain, Ireland and Sweden and the European Union.