Men urged to support their partners who develop obstetric fistula
Harare (New Ziana) -Men have been called upon to support their partners who develop obstetric fistula and assist them in seeking the corrective surgery, which is offered for free in the country.
Obstetric fistula is an injury sustained by some women at childbirth, which leads to a continuous flow of both urine and faeces as a hole is created between the birth canal and the rectum, sometimes joining the two canals.
In most cases the affected women are abandoned by their partners and families, are unable to work and are stigmatised by the communities.
Speaking during a workshop to sensitise the media in the capital on Tuesday, Dr Lucia Gondongwe, the deputy director responsible reproductive health in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, implored men to be with their partners during such difficult times.
“We all know the smell of urine, no one would want to be associated with that, and they can also have continuous flow of faeces and we know the smell of faeces, no one would want to be associated with that too. So at the end of the day, these women will be secluded from the communities.
“They can’t attend meetings, they can’t even attend funerals, they can’t even go to work, so at the end of the day, they are secluded by the community and they are lonely,” said Dr Gondongwe.
She said in most cases their husbands run away from them because they can’t stand the smell of the urine and the faeces.
In cases where men are well informed by health workers, they become supportive to their partners in seeking healthcare which is offered for free at selected hospitals throughout the country.
These include Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital, Mashoko Christian Hospital and Morgester Mission Hospital both in Masvingo, Mutambara Mission Hospital in Chimanimani, Manicaland and Chidamoyo Christian Hospital in Karoi, Mashonaland Weset province.
Dr Gondongwe said since 2015, at least 1 000 women in the country have benefited from the free surgeries program, which costs about US$5 000 in private hospitals and between US$1 500 and US$2 000 in government hospitals locally.
Patients are also reimbursed all the expenses including bus fare incurred as they seek healthcare.
Meanwhile Tendai Chimana from Birchenough Bridge in Manicaland who is one of the beneficiaries of the free surgeries program said her husband deserted her when she developed the condition which she stayed with for 12 years before seeking treatment.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that between 50 000 and 100 000 women worldwide develop obstetric fistula every year.
Most such cases are recorded in developing countries because of the poorly resourced health systems, with sub-Saharan and South Asia.
The inter-linkages between poverty, inadequate health services, early childbearing, child marriages, violence against young women and girls as well as gender discrimination are the root causes of obstetric fistula and poverty remains the main social risk factor.
Limited access to the highest attainable standards of health, including sexual and reproductive health, specifically timely access to high quality emergency obstetric care causes high level of risk of obstetric fistulas and other maternal morbidities as well as an increase in maternal mortality.