Monday, December 15, 2014 – 10:00 — BY MATHEWS NDANYI
This article originally appeared in The Star and also ran on AllAfrica.com.
The more than two million women in Kenya suffering from fistula complications face long delays before treatment due to a shortage of experts and facilities.
Fistula is a tear in a woman’s bladder or rectum that causes leak in urine or feaces.
Thousands of new fistula cases are recorded among women every year with the main causes being prolonged labour, botched caesarean sections and sexual assault.
Most of the victims suffer pain and stigma and many fear seeking treatment. Such cases are high in parts of North Rift, Western and Nyanza regions.
But there is now a glimmer of hope for the women in the region following the establishment of a fistula treatment centre in the region. It is located at the Kisumu East District hospital. Similar centres have been set up at the Cheranganyi Nursing home in Kitale and at the Jamaa Mission Hospital in Nairobi.
The Fistula Foundation has helped establish the centres. Lindsey Pollaczek, the foundation’s programme director, says many affected women were forced to wait for the free medical camps organised once a year in Nairobi or Eldoret.
Janet Anyango, 24, from Nyabondo in Kisumu County, says she has suffered fistula for the last 12 years.
“It’s so painful and stigmatising to live with the fistula condition. At time I wished to die instead of suffering such pain,” she says. The problem affects many women living in rural areas most who cannot afford the cost of surgery.
“I could not even afford transport to go attend the free medical camps leave alone paying the cost of surgery,” said Anyango, whose problem started in 2002 after giving birth. She was 12 years then and was therefore not well developed for a normal delivery.
Anyango is now among the first patients waiting for the fistula corrective surgery at the new center established in Kisumu.