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The Star: 3,000 new fistula cases come up yearly

June 9, 2015

More than 3,000 new cases of fistula are recorded among women in Kenya annually, an NGO has said.

Women and Development Against Distress in Africa director Habiba Mohamed said only 500 of the patients access treatment.

She said most of the patients in the rural areas cannot access treatment.

Fistula is a tear in a woman’s bladder or rectum that causes leak in urine or faeces.

Its main causes are prolonged labour, botched caesarean section and sexual assault.

Habiba said the country currently has more than two million cases of fistula.

She was speaking on Saturday after touring Mt Elgon area, which has a high number of women suffering from fistula.

Other regions with high numbers of fistula cases are North Rift, Western and Nyanza.

Habiba said the country has an acute shortage of surgeons to handle fistula complications.

“We have only 10 surgeons in the country, making it difficult for most of the affected women to access medication,” she said.

Hundreds of women suffering from fistula and those who survived the complication held a procession at Cheptais in Mt Elgon to sensitise the community on the problem.

Habiba called for support to train additional medics, who will help handle the problem.

Women suffering from fistula complained of increased stigmatisation against them within their communities.

Pamela Naliaka, a fistula survivor, urged the society not to discriminate against those suffering from the condition.

Hundreds of women got free fistula screening at Cheptais clinic.

Those found to have the complication will be treated free of charge, courtesy of Action on Fistula and Wadadia project.

“We call on women who suffer from this complication not fear and suffer in silence. Let them come out and seek treatment even with the few medical experts we have,” Habiba said.

The Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret is working to put up fistula treatment centres for handling the growing number of patients.

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