Accra May 21, GNA - The 100 in 100 Obstetric Fistula Initiative has recorded 113 obstetric fistula repairs as at April 2, 2019,Professor Anyetei Lassey, Chairman of the National Obstetric Fistula Taskforce has said.
Out of the 113, Mercy Women’s Catholic Hospital Fistula Center, Mankessim recorded 56, Tamale Central Hospital Fistula Centre recorded 21repairs, Wa Regional Hospital 17 and Baptist Medical Centre Nalerigu repaired eight cases.
Assemblies of God Hospital, Saboba recorded six repaired cases, Koforidua Regional Hospital recorded three fistula repaired cases and Yendi Municipal Hospital repaired two fistula cases.
Speaking with the Ghana News Agency in Accra, Prof Lassey said 98 of these patients had been cured and were dry whilst 15 were still leaking urine for various reasons beyond the scope of this report.
The 100 in 100Initiative, was launched on May 23, 2018 with the aim of conducting 100 fistula repairs in 100 days, enhance awareness of obstetric fistula and mobilize funds for fistula repairs.
Implementation started on June 23rd, 2018 and the statistics excluded fistula repairs occurring in teaching hospitals over the period.
Obstetric Fistula is a distressing complication of prolonged, obstructed labour, resulting in the leakage of urine or faeces or both through the vagina.
The smell of the leaking urine, feces or both is constant and humiliating. This, if left untreated, could lead to chronic medical problems including ulcerations and kidney diseases.
Prof. Lassey outlining some challenges the Initiative faced along the line included the fact that: “The 100 in 100 initiative as declared, presumed the patients were already recruited. This, however, was not the case; hence, it took more than 100 days to meet the initiative target.
“Again, case identification, recruitment and mobilization for surgery were severely hampered by lack of funding.
He explained that Access Bank’s timely intervention of donating some money, paid for the cost of repairs performed at the Mankessim Centre only whereas UNFPA paid patients’ transportation and feeding at the Wa and Tamale hospitals.
“All, except the Mankessim Centre, relied on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) re-imbursements to recover the cost of surgeries. As a result, only fistula patients with active NHIS cards were considered for surgery outside the Mankessim Centre,” he added.
Prof. Lassey, however, called for the need to always budget for patient’s identification, recruitment and mobilization for surgery since it would be an additional burden on the patients who were already poor.
The National Fistula Taskforce Chairman, told the GNA that a study, carried out by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) in 2015, estimated that about 1,300 new cases of fistula occurred every year and yet, only less than 100 cases are repaired each year leaving 1, 200 cases without care.
The UNFPA together with the National Obstetric Taskforce and the GHS launched a National Obstetric Fistula Prevention and Management Strategy in 2017 and the 100 in 100 initiative was part of the implementation strategy.
“It is estimated that the average cost of fistula treatment including surgery and post-operative care, is approximately $700, which is well beyond the reach of most women with the condition”.
He said: “Access to maternal healthcare is a right and that must be accessible to every woman regardless of their financial status or geographical location.”
Prof Lassey commended the UNFPA, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MOGCSP), and Civil Society Organisations for the pivotal role they have played in mobilising patients for the surgery and Access Bank for the financial support, which had helped to put smiles back on the faces of these women.
He called on other institutions to support the initiative financially to repair more cases and put smiles back on the faces of the victims.
He advised women who suffer from fistula conditions to report to the health facility and families who have such patients should take them to the health facility for the necessary assistance.
“We should not hide them or stigmatize them since the stigma and shame alone can kill them. They need our love and assistance to have the fistula repaired and be integrated back into society”, Prof. Lassey added.
Each year, between 50,000 to 100,000 women worldwide are affected by obstetric fistula, with an estimation of more than 2 million young women living with untreated obstetric fistula in Asia and sub- Saharan Africa.
The menace is a historical issue in the developed world. However, it is still prevalent in poor resource countries like Ghana. This is based on the fact that, about 2 million women in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia are still suffering from the disorder. Meanwhile, it has been eliminated in Europe and America whiles women in developing countries continue to suffer in silence.