First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has called for sustained efforts to end fistula, saying any woman suffering from the condition should be treated promptly and reintegrated into society.
Pledging her continued support to the global campaign to end fistula, the First Lady emphasized the need to step up measures aimed at ensuring new cases of fistula are prevented.
“On my part, I remain committed to supporting the aspirations of the global campaign to end Fistula. I will continue to lend my voice and support for increased investment to restore the dignity of women and girls,” the First Lady said.
“Collectively, we can create awareness, lobby for, and put in place supportive measures to strengthen the capacity of our health systems to offer more treatment and surgical repairs as well as training of more doctors.”
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta spoke on Tuesday at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) in Nairobi where she visited patients who benefitted from free fistula surgeries as part of activities to commemorate the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula.
“I was deeply touched by the opportunity to meet women who have recently undergone surgical repairs. I met women who have come all the way from Kitui, Baringo, Laikipia, Nakuru, Marsabit, Homa Bay, and Nairobi,” the First Lady said.
The surgeries were performed during the ongoing fistula camp organized by KNH that started on 17 May running up to May 28.
The First Lady said the theme of this year’s International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, which is “Women’s rights are human rights! End Fistula now”, is a reminder that many injustices still face women and girls today.
She said the theme compels governments and people everywhere to listen and reflect on the injustices that women around the world have continued to face.
“We are reminded that women are prime targets of forms of stigma and abuse and that we will never fully gain our dignity until our collective rights are respected and protected,” the First Lady said.
At the same time, the First Lady decried rising cases of teenage pregnancies and gender violence, saying the two vices are eroding gains made towards ending obstetric fistula.
While applauding the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) for including obstetric fistula in its health packages, the First Lady noted that there is still a backlog of nearly 1000 cases of women living with fistula awaiting surgery every year.
“This situation has been made worse by the current COVID-19 pandemic which has not only strained our health systems but has also affected access to and utilization of health services including maternity care,” the First Lady said.
She commended UNFPA, AMREF, Fistula Foundation, and the Flying Doctors among other organizations for partnering with her Beyond Zero initiative towards ending obstetric fistula.
“You have supported capacity building of health workers, community mobilization, provision of hospital equipment, funding of fistula repair and rehabilitation of fistula survivors,” the First Lady noted.
The First Lady also acknowledged brave women like fistula ambassador Jane Muthoni who spoke against the burden she experienced suffering from fistula for 13 years before she was treated.
Other speakers included Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache, KNH Chairman George Ooko, and UNFPA Country Representative Dr Ademola Olajide among others who commended First Lady Margaret Kenyatta for her leading role in the promotion of maternal and child health through the Beyond Zero initiative.