The Government of Sierra Leone, West African Fistula Foundation-WAFF, Haikal Aberdeen Women’s Centre, Planned Parenthood Association and Marie Stopes Sierra Leone on Friday May 23 2013 celebrated the first ever “International Day to end Fistula.”
The Government of Sierra Leone also used the day to launch the “National Fistula Strategy” in Sierra Leone. The theme of the commemoration was “End the Shame, End the Isolation, End Fistula.”
Obstetric Fistula is “one of the most serious injuries in child bearing.” The disease involves “a hole in the birth canal by prolonged or protracted labour.”
The primary risk factor of the disease is early teenage pregnancy, closely spaced pregnancy and lack of access to emergency obstetric care.”
In most of these cases, the baby is still born or dies within the first week of life and the woman then suffers some devastating injury. This devastating injury consequently leads to the woman suffering “stigma, being ashamed and ostracized.”
This disease claims the lives of 800 women everyday and for every woman that dies “20” more are injured or disabled. The Aberdeen Women Centre and the Bo West African Fistula Foundation has done about 342 surgeries.
The Medical Superintendent PCMH, Dr A.P Koroma, who dilated on Maternal Health revealed that Fistula with the Free Health Care, “Fistula has been reduced.”
He went on to mention some issues that are still the causes of Fistula. Teenage pregnancy before the age of 18 in the country, he stated, lies at 69% and that the skill attendance of health practitioners to these girls is about 43%, while the institutional attendance was 32%.
The Deputy Mayor Bo City Council, Mohamed Wurie Jalloh, explained that “Fistula is not a sickness that its sufferers should be in hiding.” Before now he stipulated, the sufferers of fistula only used to get treatment from Freetown or else await “treatment from overseas specialists” who used to come to the town annually.
Dr Moosa, the District Medical Officer Bo District explicated that “statistically, every minute, a woman dies of fistula” and that “others suffer.” He added that it was a “great injustice for the poorest and marginalized to suffer most.” “It is time to end Fistula.”
Ratiza Ndhlovu of UNFPA stated that the “It is a sorrow that we loss talents everyday due to fistula.” The best way to fight this disease out, she stated, was “to empower women and girls.” Parents she advised must give birth to the exact number of children that they can afford to bring up.
Mustapha B. Atilla, Deputy Minister Gender and Children’s Affairs cried that “The sun should not rise and set on a woman in labour twice.” But he straight away jumped in with the question of “What is the role of men in Fistula?”
The tradition of Sierra Leone, he argued, puts the man first in decision-making. Therefore, if the fight against fistula has to be won then “men have to come in.” The men in Sierra Leone he exclaimed “have more of the problem.” Men he put forward “have to conscientized to hold on to their responsibilities.”
Mrs. Robinson of the West African Fistula Foundation Sierra Leone Bo, elucidated that “if men are there at the beginning then they also have to be there at the end.” She went on to give statistics of the present status of the Fistula Foundation at the Bo Government hospital. At present, the hospital, she explained, have 18 patients and that the age bracket of the patients falls around 15-42 years.
For the past year, the Fistula Department of the Bo Government hospital, she highlighted has recorded five infants deaths, 22 still births all coming out of 44 pregnancies.
Source | Awoko