By Farayi Machamire
HARARE – The Health and Child Care ministry says it has put in place measures, including free surgery, aimed at curbing obstetric fistula — a debilitating injury resulting from giving birth.
Obstetric Fistula is one of the most serious and tragic childbirth injuries leading to a hole between the birth canal and bladder or rectum caused by prolonged (over six hours), obstructed labour.
It leaves women leaking urine and faeces, and often leads to depression and social isolation due to the smell caused by the condition.
Health ministry director of family health Bernard Madzima explained that government has put in place a number of strategies, including providing emergency obstetric care services in selected sites in the country.
“Obstetric fistula is a devastating injury which occurs to women at child birth leaving the women incontinent of either urine, faeces or both.
“The ministry is committed to improving maternal health so as to reduce obstetric fistula by improving access to family planning, promoting ante natal care, availability of waiting mother’s home at the health facilities, increase institutional deliveries by skilled birth attendants and improve access to basic emergency obstetric care. These strategies will help to combat obstetric fistula,” Madzima told the Daily News.
“For the women who are unfortunate to have obstetric fistula, the ministry in partnership with United Population Fund (UNFPA) and Women and Health Alliance International is providing free surgery for women with obstetric fistula at Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital with plans to decentralise the surgeries by end of year. Women who need to book for the surgeries can call on toll fee line 08080231.”
Madzima highlighted that many African women who have obstetric fistula usually suffer in silence.
“The true extent of the obstetric fistula in Zimbabwe is unknown, however, according to the UN statistics, for every woman who dies, roughly 20 suffer serious injury or disability of which obstetric fistula is one of the serious injuries,’ he said.
“Zimbabwe has a high maternal mortality rate of 614/100 000 live births according to the 2015 Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey implying high morbidity rates. Ministry is working on conducting a survey to understand the burden of obstetric fistula in Zimbabwe.” Daily News.