Fistula is completely preventable, but still, at least 2 million women in Africa, Asia, and the Arab region are living with the condition, with 50,000-100,000 new cases developing each year.
This article on BBC News quotes two women who have suffered from obstetric fistula:
"Everyone deserted me - my husband deserted me, my friends deserted me. I know I will never have a husband, I will never have a boyfriend, I will never have a baby." -Fatama Kargbo.
"Life was really horrible for me... the odour of the urine is horrible... that is why even my husband wouldn't allow me to stay in his house." -Aminata Kanda
I learned about obstetric fistula years ago, and it has lingered in my mind since then. Beyond the unthinkable pain of losing a child, these women are then rejected by their families, friends, and society. They are seen as unclean. They are abandoned.
Such pain should not come from a pregnancy. It is preventable, and fistulas can be repaired through a simple surgery.
The Campaign to End Fistula lists the following strategies to address fistula:
- Provide access to adequate medical care for all pregnant women and emergency obstetric care for all who develop complications.
- Increase access to education and family planning services for women and men.
- Postpone pregnancy for young girls until they are physically mature.
- Improve girls' nutrition to prevent stunted growth (which can leave the mother's pelvis small in relation to the baby's head) and to minimize the risk of complications during childbirth.
- Repair physical damage through medical intervention and emotional damage through counselling.
Obstetric fistulas were once common throughout the world. Through improved maternal care, it is almost unheard of in Europe and North America, but is still common in developing countries. Please do what you can to educate yourself and others about this condition, and that is how it will end.
-Information found on http://endfistula.org