The Ministry of Health and Child Care’s fistula repair program supported by UNFPA and Women and Health Alliance (WAHA) is bringing hope to various women and their families in Zimbabwe.
The program which is being carried out at Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital has benefited a number of women who had lost hope.
“We anticipate rolling out the Obstetric Fistula Program to Bulawayo and Mutare in the near future to cater for those who have to travel long distances” said Dr Bernard Madzima, Director of Family Health in the Ministry of Health and Child Care
“As we improve Maternal Care during pregnancy and delivery lets also look at those who have suffered bad outcomes of this process”, he said.
UNFPA in partnership with Women and Health Alliance (WAHA) has been supporting the Ministry of health to provide obstetric fistula repair and management since 2015.
A total of 8 fistula repair and management camps at Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital had been held by December 2017 and more than 340 women with obstetric fistula repaired. One camp has been held since March 2018 and the next is in June 2018.
Obstetric fistula (OF), an abnormal connection between the vagina, rectum and/or bladder, may develop after prolonged and obstructed labor and lead to continuous urinary or faecal incontinence.
It is argued that most fistulas occur in countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, with poorly-resourced health systems.
Women with obstetric fistula are indicators of the failure of health systems to deliver accessible, timely and appropriate intra-partum care
Despite its devastating impact on the lives of girls and women, obstetric fistula is still largely neglected in the developing world.
It has remained a ‘hidden’ condition, because it affects some of the most marginalized members of the population; poor, young, often illiterate girls and women in remote regions of the world.Poverty; lack of knowledge about and access to family planning services; lack of skilled attendance at birth; lack of emergency obstetric care; lack of transportation; shortage of trained providers for fistula repair; limited awareness about repair possibilities; poor integration of services and marginalization of women with fistula are some of the identified factors leading to obstetric fistula and its consequences.
One of the beneficiaries of the program is an 18 year old woman who developed fistula due to prolonged labor. She comes from Honde valley in Manicaland, she could not go to the hospital on time because of her in-laws’ religious beliefs.
As if it is not enough the young woman lost her womb.
“When the doctors told me that I will never have a child, my world crumbled and when I realized I could not control my urine and excretion, I felt useless, I just wanted to die. Until I was told that an operation could fix my problem,” said the woman after a successful operation.
Some women have had fistula for decades and the repair operation is a dream come true to them, a miracle they have been praying for, for years.
Charity Matambo the sister in charge of the gynecology ward at Chinhoyi provincial hospital commended the ministry and its partners for such a timely program.
“I did not know that there are so many women with Obstetric fistula in Zimbabwe. Since the program started many women have benefited.
“It is a pity that most of the women with fistula are divorced, very few are still happily married and suffer stigma from the society.
“We teach and encourage those who get treatment for fistula to go and sensitize others to come and get treatment”, said sister Matambo.
The program is still on, The Ministry of Health and Child Care is inviting all those with fistula, or who know anyone with it in Zimbabwe to call our Obstetric Fistula toll free line 08080231.