Some 59 fistula patients have benefited from a free correctional surgery during a nine-day medical camp organised by the Thika Level Five Hospital.
Out of those, only four are still admitted at the facility, while the rest were treated and discharged.
During the camp, three doctors, 20 nurses and 40 health-care officers were trained under the guidance of the Kiambu County Director of Nursing Services Betty Kasioka, a fistula specialist.
The patients could not hide the agony they have gone through as they recounted the shame and stigma they have been subjected to by close family members.Some said they were left with no choice but to run away from their families.
Nduta Nyambura a hair dresser in Nairobi’s Mathare slums said her husband left her after she developed the condition.
”We couldn’t share a dining table. He would sneak out with his food or eat when I had gone to bed. He always talked bad about my condition and could not stand it. He was fed up and ran away,” said a teary Nyambura.
At her work place, customers would cover their noses in the pretense that the room was stuffy and they all slowly ran away.“I felt bad when friends claimed that I had a bad smell, when I would see passersby covering their noses claiming to note a terrible smell. It was too much, “said the mother of 5.
According to Dr. Jacklyne Njoroge, the Thika Level Five Hospital’s Deputy Superintendent, several fistula patients would rather suffer at their homes than visit health facilities for treatment.They think the situation is incurable, though lack of support and access to such services has led them to have such feelings.
“The stigma fistula patients are subjected too is unbearable, this makes them think the situation is incurable. What many people don’t know is that the condition can occur to any woman in labour. What should be done is more sensitization to women to give births at hospitals,” she said.
Njoroge added that the country faces a shortage of fistula specialists making access to treatment a challenge especially to
patients in the rural areas.More sensitization and treatment camps should also be organized to help those who cannot afford the services.
“Pregnant mothers need to be advised on the need to deliver in hospitals to reduce risks of developing the condition,” she said.
Fistula is an abnormal opening to reproductive tract and the urinary tract caused by a disproportional where the baby is way bigger than the path where it supposed to pass; the baby’s head presses against the urethra and the rectum squeezing them in between.
With time, the pressed tissues lack blood circulation thus dying and within 7 days, the dead parts fall off leaving a hole then urine plus the stool start passing through the birth canal making it difficult to
Dr. Betty says the condition can be prevented by having four clinical visits while a woman is pregnant and avoiding giving birth at home.
Over two million girls and women worldwide suffer from the condition, out
of which Kenya accounts for an estimated 3000 incidents annually.