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More Fistula Survivors Receive Free Treatment

19 July 2017
During the campaign, 28 fistula survivors were surgically managed out of 38 patients that were recruited and assessed.
During the campaign, 28 fistula survivors were surgically managed out of 38 patients that were recruited and assessed.

The Liberia Fistula Project at the Ministry of Health, launched in 2008 with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has continued to work towards the total elimination of obstetric fistula in Liberia, while at the same time ensuring that women and girls already affected by the condition receive free treatment, skills training and social reintegration packages.

Obstetric fistula is a condition that normally arises from complications during childbirth, leading victims to abnormally discharge bodily wastes including urine and/or feces. In continuation of this quest, a recent surgical campaign to restore hope and dignity to fistula survivors was held at Phebe Hospital from June 7th to June 21st 2017. During the campaign, 28 fistula survivors were surgically managed out of 38 patients that were recruited and assessed. Out of the remaining 10, four were medically treated and discharged while the others were deemed not fit for surgery at the time. This campaign was organized by the Liberia Fistula Project (UNFPA) in collaboration with Phebe Hospital and C.B. Dunbar Hospital in Bong County and the Postgraduate Program at the AM Doglioti College of Medicine, University of Liberia.

 

One of the beneficiaries of this free fistula surgical repair campaign is 20-year old Hannah Zayzay, a resident of Fassama, Gbarpolu County. Hannah developed obstetric fistula in September 2016 as a result of prolonged labor. Hannah’s account of how she acquired obstetric fistula is similar to most of the accounts of women who suffered from the demeaning condition across the Liberia. According to her she was pregnant and when the time of labor came, there was no transportation to get her to the clinic. The contractions lasted for four whole days and nights. “On the fifth day, my family managed to get a car that took me to the hospital in Bopolu.

By the time I got there the child has already died in me;” she said. “I was operated (C-section) to get the dead baby out. From that day I have been so sick. I could never hold my urine anymore. My family has been helping me to survive because my boyfriend abandoned me;” she lamented. Hannah who had earlier had a failed fistula repair surgery expressed the hope that her recent surgery would hold. “I want to be healed and have a child again. I hope and pray that this is my last fistula surgery;” Hannah said. Like Hannah, Kadie Jamah, aged 37 went to give birth to her fifth child when he developed complications which led to obstetric fistula.

“In Weaju, Grand Cape Mount County where I lived, there is no health center. Because no vehicle was available to transport me, I had to ride a motorbike for more than two hours to get to the nearest health facility, the Liberia Government Hospital in Tubmanburg, Bomi County. I was made to sit in a tub of chlorinated water at the Liberia Government Hospital. After few hours, the midwives attending to me requested that I should be transferred to the Redemption Hospital in Monrovia;” Kadie recounted.

“We arrived at the Redemption Hospital after midnight. My condition was so critical. The nurses we met on duty requested six thousand Liberian Dollars from my family before they would touch me. And since my family never had such money, they had to take me to JFK Hospital at the back of a pickup. It was at JFK that I was given an operation to remove the dead baby;” Kadie added. Kadie said she was delighted by the opportunity to receive the free surgery. But unlike Hannah and Kadie who received surgeries to repair their fistulae, Hawa Kerkula was repaired through catheterization. Hawa, aged 24, who developed obstetric fistula on 18 April 2017 as a result of prolonged labor had Foley Catheter inserted due to the tiny nature of her fistula.