A specialised hospital for fistula in Soroti District has conducted free surgeries ahead of its official opening by President Museveni on Friday.
Terrewode Women’s Community Hospital (TWCH), whose construction started in March last year, is a subsidiary of The Association for Rehabilitation and Reorientation of Women for Development (TERREWODE), a non-for-profit civil organisation founded in 1999. It is located in Arapai Sub-county, Soroti District.
Fistula is an abnormal opening between a woman’s genital tract and her urinary tract or rectum. The condition eventually results in chronic incontinence, infections and, all too often, fierce discrimination.
The first beneficiaries of the surgical procedures at the hospital include Ms Emma Chemutai, Ms Jennifer Agweiko, Ms Margaret Ikabit and Ms Barbrah Akello.
The executive director of TERREWODE, Ms Alice Emasu Seruyange, said since 1999, they have reated 5,000 women and girls free of charge.
“The hospital seeks in its works to correct the abnormal urinary infections that are among many women who have silently lived with this condition for long,” she said.
Ms Chemutai said she developed urinary fistula following a ceasarean birth at Kapchorwa Hospital in March this year.
“I learnt about TERREWODE from a friend who had a similar problem and had successfully been operated on,” she said. Ms Agweiko, 22, said she had lived with urinary obstetric fistula since 2012 after she conceived at the age of 16.
The visiting medical director of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, Dr Fekade Ayenachew, alongside with Dr Fred Kirya of Soroti Regional Referral Hospital and Dr Josephine Namugenyi, the medical director TWCH, are part of the medical team that conducted the surgeries last week.
Dr Namugenyi said fistula afflicts those who lack access to timely and quality maternal health care.
She appealed to the public to educate their children against early pregnancies.
“Let us also encourage women and girls to go for antenatal care and also improve on maternal services in the hospitals so that women who get complications in labour are assisted in time,” Dr Namugenyi added.
Globally, two million women and girls suffer from fistula. At least 100,000 women of reproductive age in Uganda suffer from obstetric fistula, according to statistics from the Ministry of Health.
State minister for Health Sarah Opendi last year said prevalence has reduced from 2 per cent in 2011 to 1 per cent in 2016 due government interventions.
Kitovu hospital in central region is one of the few facilities carrying out fistula repairs in the country.