Let’s tackle obstetric fistula head-on – First Lady

 The First Lady, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Ad­do, has called for concerted efforts to tackle the problem of obstetric fistula in Ghana, to improve the lives of mothers and reproductive health.

That, she said would help reduce “stigmatisation and discrimination” women experienced when affected by the condition.

Mrs Rebbeca (middle) with some Parliamentarians and Partners after the event. Photo Godwin Ofosu-Acheampong

Obstetric fistula is a medical con­dition that developed in a woman’s bladder as a result of prolonged obstructed labour.

The First Lady was addressing journalists in Accra yesterday to commemorate the International Day to end Obstetric Fistula on the theme “Breaking the cycle: Preventing fistula in Ghana”.

It was organised by the United Nations Population Fund (UNF­PA), and among the participants were representatives from the Ministry of Health, Access Bank, World Food Programme (WFP), and the Ministry of Gender, Chil­dren and Social Protection.

Mrs Akufo-Addo said that education and sensitisation on ob­stetric fistula had to be intensified in various communities, adding that individuals affected should be bold to seek medical treatment.

She said the causes of fistula included poverty, lack of aware­ness, early marriage, female genital mutilation, and scarcity of skilled birth attendants.

According to her, the condi­tion could be treated through surgery adding that pregnant women should avoid malnutrition to prevent being “a victim of the condition.”

“Pregnant women should be encouraged to access antenatal care and provided with quality services during delivery and post-delivery,” she said.

The Director General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, in a speech read for him, said that childhood marriages which led to adolescent pregnancies, were a risk factor to obstetric complications, hence should be avoided.

According to him, the condition led to the leaking of offensive odour, which made it impossible for the victims to go into public for fear of stigmatisation.

“The promotion of contracep­tion and family planning, as well as related interventions for the prevention of obstetric fistula should receive immense attention,” he said.

The Country Representative of UNFA, Dr Wilfred Ochan, said women who suffered the condition were unable to work outside the home, and were unable to generate income.

Dr Ochan said the condition de­prived women of their “self-esteem and confidence,” resulting in their families and communities abandon­ing them.

He said the UNFPA was com­mitted to ending obstetric fistula in Ghana and would continue to work with the government and all partners to make it a reality.

“Without proper treatment, women with an obstetric fistula could face a lifetime of suffering, often abandoned by their husbands and families and would find them­selves effectively ostracised from society,” he said.


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