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20.03.2006 General News

About 500 women infected with fistula yearly


Tamale, March 20, GNA - A needs assessment report on fistula conducted in 2000 indicates that out of about 500,000 cases of child deliveries recorded in the country every year it is estimated that 500 cases of fistula are reported. Fistula is a hole that occurs between the bladder and vagina or rectum and vagina through childbearing resulting in the continuous flow of urine, faeces or both.

This was made known at a one-day sensitisation forum organised by Pathfinder International a non-governmental organisations in collaboration with United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) with the media "On strengthening fistula prevention and access to treatment in Ghana" in Tamale on Saturday. The workshop was to educate media practitioners on what fistula is to enable them play an advocacy role of creating awareness about the disease, measures to be taken for its prevention and treatment.

Hajia Salamatu Futa, Project Coordinator of Pathfinder International, said although the exact prevalence of fistula in Ghana was not known it is however, estimated by the report conducted in 1996 in Kumasi that 150 out of 157,449 deliveries resulted in fistula due to complications. Of these, 73 per cent were due to prolonged obstructed labour.

Hajia Futa said the underlying causes of obstetric fistulae are deeply buried in the lack of power of women to make decisions on matters directly affecting their general or reproductive health and well-being, low social and economic status of women, cultural and traditional practices and beliefs that determine the conditions under which women live and early marriage and childbearing. She said in most cases the disease was blamed on witchcraft or a curse placed on the women and that most of the women who got infected by the disease lost their husbands because they could no longer tolerate their presence.

Hajia Futa said there was no fistula centre in Ghana with most of the hospitals treating the disease concentrated in the south and only one in the north that is not on full time resulting in a back log of cases. She appealed to the media to collaborate with the UNFPA and Pathfinder International to make the campaign against fistula a success to alleviate the suffering of women, especially those in the rural areas.