Women with fistula treated, given financial support

Ten women suffering from obstetric fistula, have successfully undergone reconstructive surgery in the Bolgatanga Hospital to correct their condition.

Obstetric fistula, a severe medical condition, is a hole created between the vagina and anus or the bladder, which happens to women, who undergo difficult prolonged labour, during delivery when the pressure of the baby tears some tissues and creates a hole that leaks urine or faeces thereby giving their victims a bad odour.

The condition, which is said to be the most devastating of all child bearing problems, can get so bad that the women are shunned by their neighbours and sometimes divorced by their husbands and unable to do any activity that involves other people because nobody wants to get near them.

Dr Peter Baffoe, a Gynaecologist at the Bolgatanga hospital, who performed the surgeries, said over one hundred such cases had been identified in the Upper East Region and about 30 operated upon with a success rate of 70 per cent.

He said some of the cases were old conditions where the women had had the problem for more than 15 years thus making it more difficult to correct successfully.

Dr Baffoe said even though the treatment was covered under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), the women were too poor to register and so many of the operations done so far were being sponsored by the United Nations Fund for Population Activity (UNFPA) and Pathfinder International-Ghana, an NGO that works to improve the Reproductive health of women, men and adolescents throughout the developing world.

The treatment for one woman cost at least GH¢250.

The women were also presented with GH¢200 each by Pathfinder, which sponsored the operations to help them undertake small scale income generating activities that would facilitate their reintegration in their various communities.

Mr Moses L. Nanang, Reproductive Programme Manager, Pathfinder, explained that the organisation trained staff of Ghana Health Service to reach out into communities to identify women with fistula and encourage them to come for treatment.

He appealed to family members and communities of fistula victims not to shun or stigmatize them, but rather show them love and understanding and support them to seek medical care as early as possible.

Dr James Akpablie, Upper East Deputy Regional Director of Health Services noted that many of the women, who suffered from Fistula, were teenagers and appealed to men and chiefs in the region to discourage early marriages, because it exposed the girls to a lot of health problems.

He said 14 per cent of all pregnancies in the region were teenagers.

Dr Akpablie said the Regional Health Directorate was increasing the number of Community Health Planning Service (CHIPS) compounds in the communities, nurses living with the people in rural communities so that majority of deliveries would be supervised by trained personnel who would also refer difficult cases to hospitals in good time.

He said prevention was the best and urged all pregnant women to go to trained Health Personnel for delivery as that was free of charge.

Source: GNA

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