Dec 28, 2017

Erasing the pain and taboo of this female injury

AUTHOR:Fred de Sam LazaroSOURCE:PBS News Hour

The PBS New Hour should be commended for devoting almost 7 minutes of their nightly broadcast focusing on a female injury to the birth canal which is practically non-existent in the developed world. This horrific condition is known as obstetric fistula; (which is a hole than between the bladder and/or rectum and the vagina), where by the pregnant mother leaks urine and/or feces. In addition, she is at risk of dying along with her fetus. If she and/or her newborn survive she typically becomes a pariah in her village making her unfit to live there and may even lose her baby. If she ultimately is lucky enough to have her hole/fistula repaired she may still be shunned and not be allowed to return. These women often become severely depressed and may also commit suicide. The condition develops because of prolonged labor, which could last more 48 hours. They must obtain permission from their spouse/partner and when the permission is given, she sometimes travels as much as 10-12 kilometres, even by foot if no vehicle available and/or there are no funds to pay for fuel. Now, if she gets to a health facility, there may be no staff competent to perform a C-section and/or also facility may not have medical supplies and/or equipment. This is her plight. She ends up with a fistula and even die. This is a totally preventable condition. Without political will and without women being empowered this awful condition will exist. There are between 100-150,000 living with fistula and only around 10-15,000 gets surgery. Also, well over 75,000 new cases develop each year. This is a failure of the existing and/or non-existent health care system, which must be strengthened. Life for Mothers has pushed for a paradigm shift so that women have acces to health services. Even after working in this space for over 10 years it so sad this suffering persists. For a written and/or audio recording of the PBS broadcast please click here:


Did you know?

The risk of a woman dying in sub-Saharan Africa as a result of pregnancy or childbirth is 1 in 22, as compared to 1 in 7300 in developed regions.

Source:United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), 2010

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