Don’t abandon women with fistula, Busoga minister tells men
Obstetric fistula is a severe medical condition when the wall between the bladder and reproductive organ is damaged and a fistula (a hole develops), leaving the patient unable to control flow of urine and sometimes, if the rectal wall is affected, faecal excretion. Because of the smell fistula sufferers endure, they are shunned by society, rejected by husbands and family
HEALTH | Busoga Kingdom tourism minister Hellenah Namutamba has called upon all stakeholders in health and social justice to stand up and be counted by taking part in campaign to create awareness of obstetric fistula.
Namutamba made the call while presiding over a fistula charity walk in Jinja town organised by Women at Work International (WAWI) under the theme, “Let’s End Fistula Now: Reach Everyone.”
Obstetric fistula is a severe medical condition when the wall between the bladder and reproductive organ is damaged and a fistula (a hole develops), leaving the patient unable to control flow of urine and sometimes, if the rectal wall is affected, faecal excretion.
Obstetric fistula is mainly caused by prolonged obstructed labour. When a woman stays in labour for longer than 24 hours, she risks suffering from the fistula.
The condition causes untold stigma and rejection by community, families and husbands. Often times, women with the condition are forced out of communities. Their crime? Smelling. They are shunned from jobs and cannot freely socialise with people.
Namutamba said that it so saddens that Uganda ranks 3rdwith the highest Fistula cases while Busoga region ranks second in the prevalence rate in the country.
“I have participate in WAWI’s fistula charity walk today because I acknowledge that it is through such creative approaches that include community mass mobilization and awareness on Fistula prevention and treatment that together will wipe fistula out of Uganda,” Namutamba said.
She said that Ugandans must understand that fistula is not a curse nor is it a punishment to anyone but a condition that we all can prevent and help cure.
“Fistula is not just a problem of women but every sane thinking person should critically look into this condition that has deterred not only women in my motherland from enjoying their early years of womanhood but has also denied men in this country a chance to be the macho they should be,” Namutamba said.
“I know for a fact that women in my area have suffered the most with obstetric fistula since they find themselves giving birth in teenage.”
She advised students that had attended the walk to avoid involvement into early sex which is one of the causes of obstetric fistula.
Busoga Kingdom junior health minister Sheila Birungi Gandi said that it is unfortunate that Busoga comes second after western region in Uganda in fistula prevalence in the country.
“Statistics show that every day six women get infected and Busoga is about 0.8% of the population that has a symptom that leads to obstetric fistula,” Gandi said.
“Awareness creation is one of the reason we are holding the charity walk and as a Kingdom, we are calling on the population to embrace their values and normals by avoiding teenage pregnancy and promiscuous behaviors that can led them early sex.”
She noted that obstetric fistula is so high in Busoga region since there is a high rate of teenage pregnancy in the region.
WAWI Executive Director, Halima Namakula, appreciated the Kingdom of Busoga and the United Nations Association of Uganda (UNAU) for embracing the cause in the fight against Fistula.
“With this overwhelming support that we have received, we shall soar high to ensure that this campaign in taken to other parts of the country with the aim of ending the vice,” Namakula said.
She called upon men in the country not to abandon their women during such trying moments but join them to fight and end the vice in the country.
Each year between 50,000 and 100,000 women worldwide are affected by obstetric fistula, an abnormal opening between a woman’s genital tract and her urinary tract or rectum, according to the World Health Organisation.
The development of obstetric fistula is directly linked to one of the major causes of maternal mortality: obstructed labour.
Women who experience obstetric fistula suffer constant incontinence, shame, social segregation and health problems. It is estimated that more than two million young women live with untreated obstetric fistula in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
Obstetric fistula is preventable; it can largely be avoided by delaying the age of first pregnancy, as well as timely access to obstetric care.
Preventing and managing obstetric fistula contribute to the Sustainable Development Goal 3 of improving maternal health.
Obstetric fistula can be corrected through a simple surgery.