Over sixty women with fistula have been repaired at a recently concluded camp at Hoima Referral Hospital.
The two weeks fistula surgical camp, organized by Engender Health, a USAID funded project that aims restoring dignity of women with the condition assessed over 80 women. However, 63 women were found eligible and were successfully operated.
According to Dr Fred Kirya, a Consultant surgeon at Soroti Regional Referral Hospital, fistula remains a big problem in the country with nearly 2,000 new cases registered every year yet the efforts put can only repair fewer cases.
Data from the ministry of health shows that an estimated 1,900 cases, only 1500 cases are repaired annually leaving another 400 cases helpless.
This is in addition of a backlog of other 200,000 existing cases. This means that we are having more new cases than we can repair.
Speaking at the technical working group meeting for the upcoming conference on Fistula, Dr Kirya said that prevalence of the condition remains high in Bunyoro, Lango and Mt Elgon areas where there are surgeons to routinely repair women with the condition.
He also noted that the Country has less than 20 fistula surgeons – who are not enough to operate all the existing cases.
It is expected that another good number of women with the condition will be operated during and after the International Society of Fistula Surgeons Conference scheduled for 27th to 30th of October 2014 in Kampala.
The Conference, according to Dr Benard Opar, a Senior Officer in the Department of Curative services at the Ministry of Health, will bring together seasoned international surgeons who will among other cases repair the complicated cases of fistula as well as giving hands on training to Ugandan surgeons on how to handle such cases.
“We will have surgical sessions at Mulago Hospital, Nakasero and Case Medical Center where women with the condition will be repaired for free.”
Dr Opar appealed to women living with the condition to go for assessment at Mulago Hospital or any facility near them so that they can benefit from the upcoming event.
What is a fistula?
According to the Fistula Foundation, 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.
For women with obstructed labor, labor that goes unattended, the labor can last up to six or seven days. The labor produces contractions that push the baby’s head against the mother’s pelvic bone.
The soft tissues between the baby’s head and the pelvic bone are compressed and do not receive adequate blood flow. The lack of blood flow causes this delicate tissue to die and where it dies holes are created between the laboring mother’s bladder and vagina and/or between the rectum and vagina.