Maternal Health: 10 Facts On Obstetric Fistula

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According to WHO, 50,000 to 100,000 women develop obstetric fistula annually all over the world. Obstetric fistula refers to an abnormal opening that forms between a woman’s rectum/urinary tract and her genital tract. The development of this opening is caused by obstructed labour, which is also one of the main causes of maternal deaths.

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Some of the main things that women suffering from obstetric fistula suffer from include; social segregation, constant incontinence, health issues and shame. An estimation of at least 2 million young ladies both in Sub-Saharan Africa and in Asia live with untreated obstetric fistula. In spite of how common this condition is in Africa and Asia, it is preventable.

Here are 10 facts on obstetric fistula

Fact 1: A holistic approach can help address obstetric fistula

This condition exists majorly because health care systems under-perform when providing quality and accessible maternal health care. This care includes skilled care during birth, affordable fistula treatment, family planning and comprehensive and basic emergency obstetric care.

Fact 2: In some instances, surgery can help

For women living with uncomplicated fistula, all they need is simple surgery to repair the opening in the rectum or bladder. As a matter of fact, physicians say that an estimation of 80-95% of vaginal fistula cases can be repaired surgically.

Fact 3: Resolving obstetric fistula works towards the SDGs

Preventing and remedying this condition is a major contributor to enhanced maternal health, as well as, the accomplishment of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Fact 4: Training is very important

Physicians, mainly in afflicted regions are consistently receiving training in order to prevent and manage the condition.

Fact 5: Obstetric fistula is mainly observed in particular conditions

In most cases, obstetric fistula is observed among women who are living in poverty. Additionally, it is a condition that mainly occurs in cultures where a woman’s self-esteem and status almost entirely depends on her ability to bear children and also on her marriage.

Fact 6: Obstetric fistula causes mental and physical suffering

Women experiencing obstetric fistula suffer urinary incontinence, which in most cases, causes social isolation, kidney disorders, skin infections and finally death if not treated.

Fact 7: Hundreds of thousands of women suffer from obstetric fistula

50,000 to 100,000 women from all over the world develop this preventable condition annually according to a report given by the World Health Organization.

Fact 8. Obstetric fistula is preventable

This condition affecting a lot of women all over the world, every year can be prevented. Some of the ways it can be prevented include timely access to quality obstetric care, delaying the age of first pregnancy, and the termination of harmful traditional practices.

Fact 9: Obstructed labour causes death

Obstructed labour is the cause of obstetric fistula. According to a report given by WHO, obstructed labour accounts for 6% of the entire maternal deaths. It, therefore, a major cause of maternal morbidity and mortality.

Fact 10: Obstetric fistula is rare in developed countries

Obstetric fistula is no longer an issue in developed countries. This happened by early 20th century through the use of caesarean section and enhancement in prenatal care to alleviate cases of obstructed labour. That said, it is good to mention that, approximately 70% of fistula cases in the U.K and the USA are caused by pelvic surgery and not prolonged or obstructed labour.

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