Sadly, hundreds of thousands of women around the world currently suffer from this heartbreaking, treatable condition. Obstetric fistula is a serious problem in the world’s poorest countries, where most mothers give birth without any medical help. In these cases, if a woman’s labor becomes obstructed, she will endure days of painful, prolonged labor. Her baby is unlikely to survive.
If the woman survives, her body is literally broken by childbirth. Uncontrollably leaking bodily wastes, these women are shunned by their families and communities.
During her first marriage, Alice Mutoni was happy and peaceful. She automatically thought that life would continue the same way especially if she had a baby with her husband. After one year, Mutoni conceived. She says that they were both excited as they greatly anticipated having their first born.
“I was treated like a queen not only by my husband but also his relatives especially my mother-in-law. At some point, I sympathized with my maid because they could not let me help her even with the simplest house work,” Mutoni says.
After the nine months, she went to a hospital to give birth and, according to her, she had some complications. “It took me a long time to give birth and I felt extra pain during the process and after, I realized that something was not right,” she narrates.
Unlike Mutoni who was very lucky her child survived, many other mothers lose their children to this dreadful situation.
Fistula is in two categories; the obstetric and vaginal fistula. These are severe medical conditions which results into women developing a hole either between the rectum and vagina or the bladder and vagina. It can not only be treated but also prevented by getting access to emergency obstetric care such as a cesarean section.
Currently, Rwanda has only two surgeons with skills to repair fistula cases. Meanwhile more doctors are being trained to carry out the operations in the country. So hopefully the number of cases is set to diminish very significantly.