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What I Have Been Up to of Late: Beyond Zero and Fistula in Kisii

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Those have been quite some very busy last three weeks for me! I have been involved in some projects that have taken up a huge chunk of my time -and good projects at that.

The first was involvement in some media work around the First Lady Margaret Kenyatta’s Beyond Zero Campaign. I’m sure you may have come across information that the First Lady has been delivering mobile clinics to various counties across the country.

Remember she ran two marathons earlier this year that helped her raise funds for her Beyond Zero Campaign? With these funds, she was able to purchase ten mobile health clinics. These clinics will help bring maternal and child health services closer to women and children –especially those in rural areas who have to trek long distances to reach health facilities.

Once delivered in these counties, the Beyond Zero mobile clinics are supposed to go round the county according to set schedules and essentially, ensure they reach all women and children in the county, penetrating into those hard-to-reach areas.

So far, the First Lady has delivered these clinics in the six counties of Taita Taveta, Narok, Samburu, Homa Bay, Baringo and Isiolo.

The First Lady’s agenda is to ensure that all 47 counties receive a mobile clinic each, meaning she has to raise more funds. She’s currently preparing for another marathon in March 2015 for this noble cause. Did you participate in the last marathon? If you did, then know that your money is helping save the life of a mother and child somewhere. :) I didn’t run myself, but I will make sure I will do so in the next one.

The second project I was involved in is about fistula. The Flying Doctors Society of Africa (FDSA) and the Freedom from Fistula Foundation (FFF) have just concluded a free fistula medical camp in Kisii which was from 6 – 12 September 2014.

Obstetric fistula is a childbirth injury that develops because of prolonged and neglected labour which becomes obstructed. Obstructed labor is when the baby’s head constantly pushes against the woman’s pelvic bone during contractions. This action prevents blood flow to vital tissues. If ceaserean section is not accessible, there occurs destruction of vaginal tissue leading to the formation of a hole (fistula) between the bladder and birth canal. This then causes urine to leak continuously through the hole. When the same damage occurs between the rectum and the birth canal, feaces leak continuously from the rectum to the birth canal. Labour is said to be prolonged if it takes more than 24 hours. Majority of the patients with fistula often report to have labored for three to five days at home under assistance of relatives, neighbours, or traditional birth attendants. In most of these cases (95 per cent) the babies are born dead. :(

Well, I had a chance to travel to Kisii to see what the medical camp is like and also meet some of the women. First of all, I must say that I was impressed by Kisii County. It was my first time there and I totally loved the place. It’s beautiful and green and Kisii town is quite abuzz with activity, I actually thought I was still in Nairobi.

Anyways, I spent some days at the Kisii Level 5 Hospital which is where the fistula medical camp was taking place. The hospital is nice, clean and it’s theatre looked more impressive than some of the private hospitals I have been to here in Nairobi.

So I got to meet some of the fistula patients. Many of them have lived for years with this debilitating condition and it was interesting to listen to them express their joy at the impending surgery and for those who had already been operated on, see the happy smiles on their faces as they looked forward to their ‘new’ life, a life which will no longer consist of them cutting old blankets, sweaters, tee-shirts and rugs to contain the leaking urine and faeces.

However, the case of one particular patient deeply disturbed me. It was that one of little four year old girl who had been raped by a 16 year-old neighbor. Both her front and her back had been ripped apart and she now had both vaginal fistula (vesicovainal fistula -VVF) as well as rectal fistula (rectovaginal fistula -RVF) meaning that she leaked both urine and faeces. All as a result of rape. A four year-old. Sad.

It was really a heartbreaking moment seeing that little innocent girl laying in that bed and listening to her 20 year-old mother recount the harrowing details of the rape incident. Too sad. :( So that has been the last three weeks for me, pretty busy but glad to be intensely involved in my foremost passion –writing maternal and child health stories.

Otherwise how have you been? I hope you have been well, #DeadBeatKenya aside.;)

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