US doctors treat 39 fistula patients

Thirteen specialist doctors and three nurses from the US provided free medical services to 39 women suffering from obstetric fistula at Kibagabaga Hospital.  Obstetric fistula is a disease described as the most devastating of all childbirth complications affecting women, prevalent in Africa and parts of Asia where there are insufficient emergency obstetric care systems.

Thirteen specialist doctors and three nurses from the US provided free medical services to 39 women suffering from obstetric fistula at Kibagabaga Hospital.

Obstetric fistula is a disease described as the most devastating of all childbirth complications affecting women, prevalent in Africa and parts of Asia where there are insufficient emergency obstetric care systems.

Dr. Christian Ntizimira of Kibagabaga Hospital recalls that after 107 women were examined, it was realized that “31 cases were not surgical, 14 cases were inoperable and more than 20 have been postponed to next year – January 15, 2011.”

He explained that the inoperable cases “are cases which are very impossible to operate, for many reasons: cancer, transplantation of some organs needed.”

The doctor noted that those postponed “are cases in which the tissues are infected or inflamed; the wound must be cleaned and unbridled. After three months it’ll be possible to repair the fistula.”

“It’s why we gave them three months that will help the cells to be regenerated and thus easy to repair.”
The US doctors were at Kibagabaga Hospital on the invitation of the Ministry of Health under a program conducted three times every year.

Obstetric fistula or vaginal fistula is a severe medical condition in which a hole or fistula develops between either the rectum and vagina or between the bladder and vagina after severe or failed childbirth, when adequate medical care is not available.

The two primary causes of fistula in women are childbirth, causing obstetric fistula, and sexual violence, causing traumatic fistula. Affected women are often abandoned by their husbands and are isolated by their families and communities.

Fistula is both preventable and treatable especially since a woman who can gain access to emergency obstetric care such as a cesarean section will not develop a fistula.

A report – “Supporting Efforts to End Obstetric Fistula,” released by the UN on October 11 called for intensified investment in cost-effective interventions to address the problem of obstetric fistula.

The UN document estimates that at least $750 million is needed to treat existing and new cases between now and 2015. It says the condition affects as many as 3.5 million women in the world.

As part of its recommendations, the document points out that funding should be predictable, and sustained support should be provided to countries’ national plans, UN entities, and other global initiatives dedicated to tackle the problem.

Three country hospitals: the Central University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK), Ruhengeri Hospital, in Northern Province and Kanombe Hospital in Kicukiro district, provide treatment.

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