The 25 fistula surgeons across the country are not enough to deal with the condition, theformer state minister of Primary Health Care Sarah Opendi has said.
Speaking at the fourth commemoration of the International obstetric fistula day in Arua District recently, Opendi said even though the numbers of the surgeons who carry out fistula repairs have greatly increased, they are still not enough.
“At the moment, there is a surgeon in each of the 13 regional referral hospitals to carry out fistula repairs. In addition, there are surgeons in seven private not for-profit hospitals which is a great improvement. But we have a backlog of 200,000 fistula cases and 1,900 new cases recorded every year; these surgeons alone are not enough to deal with these many cases,” Opendi said. She added that the ministry is going to equip Mulago National Referral Hospital, regional referral hospitals and selected private not-for-profit hospitals to build capacity for functional obstetric fistula treatment sites to deal with the backlog. According to Dr Edson Muhwezi, the United Nations Population Fund assistant representative, fistula is one of the most serious injuries women face during childbirth in the country.
“The persistence of fistula reflects broader health inequalities and healthcare system constrains because it afflicts those who lack access to timely, high quality and life-saving maternal health care,” he said before adding, “In 2015, over 2,560 fistulas were repaired across the country but we have new cases occurring every day which calls us to strengthen the prevention. We cannot give up until every woman and girl has the preventive care she needs.”
Dr Jacinto Amandua, the commissioner of clinical services at the Ministry of Health added that there is need to come up with innovative ways to reach women in rural areas who might not know the existence of the condition despite having it.