FIRST Lady of Zimbabwe, Amai Auxilia Mnangagwa has commended the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for extending financial and technical support towards managing obstetric fistula around the country.
By Michael Gwarisa
In her statement in recognition of the day to end obstetric fistula, Amai Mnangagwa said the condition has a devastating effect on the dignity and life of most women.
Obstetric fistula (OF) is a devastating injury which occurs to women at child birth. It is an abnormal connection between the vagina, rectum and/or bladder which may develop after prolonged and obstructed labor and lead to continuous urinary of feacal incontinence.
“Obstetric Fistula has a devastating social, economical and psychological effect on the health and well-being of the affected women. The stigma, loss of dignity and identity associated with fistula has a negative impact on their quality of life,” said Amai Mnangagwa.
She added that government through financial support from the UNPFA in 2009 managed to conduct a study in which assessed the extent to which obstetric fistula has impacted on Zimbabwean women.
“The findings show that obstetric fistula is a problem in the country. In light of this, the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) with financial support from UNFPA, led a learning mission to Ethiopia in April 2015 to learn the country’s experience regarding obstetric fistula management.
“The MoHCC in partnership with UNFPA and Women’s Alliance International (WAHA) established an obstetric fistula repair center at Chinhoyi provincial hospital in August 2015 to provide free surgeries to women with obstetric fistula.”
A total of 600 women have to date benefited from the surgeries while mini Obsteric Fistula repair centers have also been set up in Masvingo at Mashoko Christian School. The Health ministry and partners are building a clinic at United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) to treat obstetric fistula, one of the most serious and tragic injuries that can occur during childbirth.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe has about 1 000 women with obstetric fistula needing corrective surgery.
Most women, who are affected by this injury, often do not know about treatment, cannot afford it or cannot reach the facilities, where treatment is available. Counselling and other forms of support, such as job training, are necessary to help women re-integrate into their communities after they have been treated.