Homa Bay seeking partnerships to establish fistula handling clinic

by Amref Health Africa

In Summary

  • For a week, the Homa Bay government has organised a medical camp at the county teaching and referral hospital.
  • An obstetric fistula is an abnormal opening between a woman’s genital tracts. It causes uncontrolled flow of urine or stool from the opening.

Homa Bay government is seeking more partnerships from various non-governmental organizations to set up a clinic for managing obstetric fistula.

Establishing a clinic will enable women from the county and outside with such conditions to seek medication.

An obstetric fistula is an abnormal opening between a woman’s genital tracts. It causes uncontrolled flow of urine or stool from the opening.

Currently, none of the hospitals in Homa Bay handle the condition. Most women affected by the condition are forced to wait for free medical camps to get medication.

For a week now, the Homa Bay government, with partners such as M-Pesa Foundation, Beyond Zero, Amref, Flying Doctors Society of Africa and UNFPA, have organized such a camp at the county teaching and referral hospital.

Governor Gladys Wanga said there is a need for a fistula clinic to be set up within Homa Bay to enable women with obstetric fistula to walk in any time and get help.

 “The county government is exploring ways with partners to ensure fistula correction is done in Homa Bay. It’s high time we stopped depending on free medical camps for women to get attended to,” Wanga said.

When she visited the camp on Thursday morning, Wanga, in the company of Health executive member Roselyn Omollo, said they are committed to managing the condition among women and enabling them to redeem their dignity.

She said there is a need for the county government to have a sustainable management of the condition. Some women who showed up at the free camp were residents of neighbouring counties.

By Wednesday evening, more than 127 women had been screened and 24 taken through surgery.

Wanga said the county government will continue offering services on managing fistula after the camp.

“Repair of the condition improves the quality of life. We’re seeking collaboration with other partners to have a clinic set up here to handle patients,” she added.

A fistula can occur when a woman undergoes prolonged obstructed labour. It can also occur when an adolescent is defiled and conceived.

The county government will be donating kits to affected women to manage the condition and as a way of strengthening community interventions to manage the condition.

Beatrice Ogutu, a nurse who specializes in the management of fistula at Kenyatta National Hospital said the condition can also be caused when a woman is diagnosed with cervical cancer.

She said fistula is not deadly but can lead to other life-threatening complications like depression.

 “It can lead to other infections, especially among people who try to avoid taking fluids as they try to control the flow of urine,” she said.

Some of the patients who showed up at the free medical camp were young women. They narrated that they developed the condition because of delivering at an early age.

 Homa Bay is among the counties listed high with cases of triple threat (defilement and teenage pregnancies, new HIV infection and gender-based violence).

 M-Pesa Foundation Trustee Anne Erickson said women with fistula are still stigmatized in society.

“Life is not easy for women suffering from the condition due to pain and stigma. But we want to assure patients that we can repair the condition by reconstructive surgery,” Erickson said.

M-Pesa Foundation funded the operation at the hospital with other organisations offering care.

Erickson said their assessment reveals that several women need to be helped to repair fistula.

She called for public-private partnerships to address challenges affecting health care in the country. 

“At least 3000 women suffer from the condition every year, but only 1000 are treated. Through partnership, we can address such challenges,” she said.

Article first published on https://www.the-star.co.ke/counties/nyanza/2023-10-26-homa-bay-seeking-partnerships-to-establish-fistula-handling-clinic/

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