Fistula. A very ‘shameful’ and embarrassing condition for many women. An obstetric fistula is a hole between the vagina and rectum or bladder that is caused by prolonged obstructed labor, leaving a woman incontinent of urine or feces, or both. More than 75% of women with obstetric fistula endured a labor that lasted three days or more.
I have had the opportunity to meet some women who had lived with fistula for years, and who eventually underwent surgery to repair the fistula.
I wrote about Melvin -who had lived with the condition for ten years, and Yvonne who had lived with it for two years. Then there was a little four-year old girl I met while in Kisii last year, whose experience is one of the most difficult I’ve ever had to write.
Now, I’m sure you’ve seen calls on Citizen TV and its affiliate radio stations asking women suffering from fistula to attend free camps at KNH or other medical centers where they can be treated -for free. The medical camps are organized by the Flying Doctors Society of Africa and the Freedom from Fistula Foundation, and let me tell you something -those free surgeries literally restore the dignity of hundreds of women. I have attended three such camps -two at KNH and one at Kisii, and spoken to over 40 women about their experiences living with fistula.
Their journeys have been difficult, sometimes almost moving me to tears. That a woman can suffer such devastating effects because of an event that is supposed to bring to much joy to her life –childbirth, is very painful. But it is even sadder when she has to live that way because she cannot afford to go to hospital for corrective surgery -to repair the fistula. In a government hospital the surgery costs about Sh 30,000. In a private hospital it ranges from Sh 150,000 – 300,000. Many women who suffer from fistula cannot raise the heavily subsidized Sh 30,000. And that’s why these free medical camps are God-sent, literally.
One such camp will be happening next week at the Embu Level 5 Hospital. This is from Monday 17 August to Friday 21 August 2015. If you know of any woman who would benefit from this free service, please let her know, and help bring back the bounce to their lives. The contact numbers for the camp organizers are 0727 337 337 or 0735 337 337 incase you need more information. Spread the word and share widely.
- See Melvin’s story: Melvin Barongo talks about her life with fistula for the last ten years
- See Yvonne’s story: After two years of shame and agony, I finally got healed of fistula
- See the little girl’s story: The 4 year old with traumatic gynaecological fistula in Kisii