Health experts in Ghana are alarmed at the high number of Obstetric Fistula cases recorded in Ghana.

Research indicates that about 1,300 new cases are recorded annually in the West African country with no sign of the figure reducing. Obstetric Fistula is an abnormal hole that develops between the virginal, rectum or and bladder as a results of prolonged labour during childbirth. This condition causes women to leak urine or faeces or both.

Majority of women who have this ailment are living in isolation due to the rejection they face from relatives and friends even though it is not infectious.

According to experts, even though this condition prevails in all 10 regions of Ghana, the Northern region has the highest prevalence, followed by Ashanti, Western, Central and the Upper regions. Currently, there are three main hospitals which offer dedicated OBF care – Mercy Women’s Catholic Hospital at Mankessim-Central region and Tamale Fistula Center, Tamale Central Hospital all in the Northern region.

The United Nation’s Population Fund and the Ghana Health Service assessment of OBF 2014-2015 data indicated that 53% patients were married and 35% at least have had primary education.

According to officials, about 80% of women go through a successful surgery after first attempt. Women who develop this abnormally usually suffer a chronic skin condition which is caused by the direct irritation of urine. Some patients also develop blisters and sores around their thighs caused by the constant urinary incontinence and friction. It is also reported that 8 out of 10 women lose their babies from the delivery which caused the fistula.

Even though most of these women with OBF lose their self esteem and are easily depressed, they do not go out to seek help. They feel shy to talk about the situation, according to Cynthia Sinabisi, a survivor who spoke to Starr News, adding relatives and husbands of these women believe they are being punished for having extra marital affairs.

“In my group we’re 52, but I was the only person living with my husband. You see, they feel shy to come out, especially in my area. They will tell you it’s a curse, when I go to some houses they tell me the women are being cursed. There were some two women I even wanted to support so that they can come for the operation, their husbands told them that from the hospital they should go back to their fathers house and it is because they cheated on their husbands, but it is not so and some too will go to the soothsayer and he will tell them that it is their ex-boyfriends who are doing that to them. So many things,” she lamented.

The cost of surgery of one fistula is estimated about 400-500 dollars, this is, however, covered by the National Health Insurance Scheme but funds to cure all affected patients is not available. In order to raise funds for the treatment of this condition, the Ministry of Health, and the United Nations Population Fund have endorsed actor, John Dumelo as Obstetric Fistula ambassador to aid in the fund raising.

The minister of health, Mr Alex Segbefia said even though government is stepping up its game to eradicate the situation, human resource is also not available.

“The condition has been found to be more prevalent among communities who practice female genital mutilation and early child marriages. It still shows that as a nation we are still rooted in some harmful traditions which we need to work on. Women who suffer fistula often escape death and their babies often die. Managing obstetric fistula remains a huge challenge, firstly, we do not have adequate human resources, and we don’t have the people who have the skills to repair OBF. You need to be obstetrician gynecologist which we have very few in the country,” Mr. Segbefia added.

Source: Ghana/starrfmonline.com/103.5FM/Josephine Asabea Akonor

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