The childbirth injury, obstetric fistula: A problem that can be solved
While most women living with fistula are either unaware that treatment is available or cannot access or afford it, in the vast majority of cases, fistula is treatable through intra vaginal surgery. Reconstructive surgery can repair the injury, with success rates as high as 90 per cent for uncomplicated cases.
After treatment, a fistula patient can return to a normal life with full control of her bodily functions.
However, fistula treatment requires specialized and committed surgeons, nurses and support staff. A minimum of two weeks of post-operative care is also critical, with many cases requiring extended periods of hospitalization and further surgery to fully recover.
Fistula treatment goes far beyond repairing tissue. After surgery, women should be advised not have intercourse for three months to allow for complete healing and after this she can usually resume a full life and bear children, although due to their injuries, some may be left sterile. But emotional and socio-economic support is often needed to promote a full recovery and re-integration in to normal life.
Counseling and peer support can help to heal the emotional scars caused by stigma and isolation.
The Malalai Maternity Hospital has a specific treatment center for Obstetric Fistula. This is the only national public center, where treatment is provided without any charges. There are specific trained surgeons, midwifes and nurses. The Hospital is located in Quva-e-Markaz area of Kabul city.
The United Nation Population Fund (UNFPA) provides technical and financial assistance to the obstetric Fistula treatment centre. UNFPA also provide financial support to patients. This support includes in kind payment for the accommodation of patients in Kabul and transportation costs from home to hospital and back.
Nearby clinics and Provincial hospitals should refer the obstetric fistula patient with a referral sheet to Malalai Maternity Hospital. The patient can be provided with following telephone no for enquires and information from Malalai Hospital at 020 22 0 13 77 and from UNFPA office at cell phone no 07 07 19 89 49.