What is a Fistula?

Fistula: The silent destroyer of women’s lives.

Obstetric fistula is a hole in the birth canal caused by prolonged labor without prompt medical intervention, usually a Caesarean section. The woman is left with chronic incontinence and, in most cases, a stillborn baby.

Like maternal mortality, fistula is almost entirely preventable. But at least 2 million women in Africa, Asia and the Arab region are living with the condition, and some 50,000 to 100,000 new cases develop each year. The persistence of fistula is a signal that health systems are failing to meet the needs of women. Uganda has the 3rd highest rate in the world.

Surgery can normally repair the injury. The average cost of fistula treatment and post-operative care is about $300. Sadly, most women in Africa with the condition do not know that treatment is available, or they cannot afford it.

This campaign kicked off with the WAWI National FISTULA Camp on 23rd April 2012 at Jinja Hospital. It will lasted 45 days and involved identification of victims and reconstructive surgery done by a team of doctors from Uganda-Dr. Baragaine Justus (head of Fistula program in Uganda), Dr. Osinde (Director Jinja hospital) together with Dr Sherry Thomas from the USA.

The second phase (preventative) will cover other regions and last 6 months and will incorporate use of the mobile phone especially in reporting and identification of cases and referrals as well as provide a helpline for victims to communicate with the doctors/specialists.

Obstetric fistula occurs disproportionately among impoverished girls and women, especially those living far from medical services. Affecting the most powerless members of society, it touches issues related to reproductive health and rights, gender equality, poverty and adolescent reproductive health.

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