Amref Health Africa has partnered with the County Government of Bungoma to conduct a screening and surgical treatment camp for women with obstetric fistula in Webuye County Referral Hospital.
The week-long camp will also aim to increase awareness about Obstetric Fistula and targets to treat at least 50 women suffering from the condition. Obstetric fistula is a complication that can affect any woman or girl who suffers from prolonged or obstructed labour without timely access to an emergency Caesarean section. The result is the woman leaking urine and/or stool through the vagina.
Speaking during the flag off ceremony at the Webuye County Hospital, the First Lady of Bungoma County, Her Excellency Mrs Caroline Wangamati said Obstetric Fistula is one of the most devastating consequences of neglected childbirth and a stark example of health inequity in the world.
“Fistula is almost entirely preventable when there is universal access to quality sexual and reproductive health care. My office will continue to support initiatives aimed at ensuring access to fistula treatment for all women and girls in Bungoma County to ensure we fully eliminate it,” said Mrs Wangamati.
Amref Health Africa in Kenya’s Programme Director for Health Systems Strengthening Dr Elizabeth Wala said Obstetric fistula is a treatable and preventable condition that mainly affects poor women in under-resourced regions.
“There is need to eliminate gender-based social and economic inequities in order to end obstetric fistula. It is because of this that Amref launched the ‘Restoring Her Dignity campaign’ which aims to increase awareness about Obstetric Fistula and raise funds for reconstructive surgery for at least 5,000 women suffering from fistula,” said Dr Wala.
Amref Heath Africa in Kenya works to treat fistula through special free surgery camps across the country. It costs Kshs. 50,000 to perform reconstructive surgery for one woman.
The camp was supported in part by the Nairobi Cooking Club who hosted a dinner at the Capital Club to raise funds for this campaign.
Amref in partnership with various County Governments will be running similar fistula camps in Garissa, Marsabit, Turkana, West Pokot, Siaya, Makueni and Mombasa Counties in 2018.
Established in 1992, Amref Health Africa’s Obstetric Fistula programme, aims at improving the quality of life for women with debilitating childbirth injuries through surgical interventions and community interventions to prevent Obstetric Fistula.
Since its inception, the programme has been involved in large scale surgical interventions targeting women and girls with obstetric fistula. The programme trains doctors, nurses and midwives in Obstetric Fistula awareness, prevention, surgical repair and post-operative care. This has seen an increase in the demand for operations.
Obstetric Fistula is mostly as a result of prolonged difficult labour coupled with lack of skilled medical care, and usually leads to permanent incontinence – a continuous leakage of urine and/or stool and loss of control of bowel movements. These women are often abandoned by their husbands and ostracized by their families and communities.
It is estimated that two women get obstetric fistula per 1,000 births giving a total of 2,400 new cases per year. However, current capacity for fistula repair services in Kenya is less than 1,000 patients every year or less than 50 per cent of the estimated annual incidence. Kenya is in dire need of medical personnel trained in fistula prevention, care, and treatment.