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Gulu district battles rise of uterine fibroids as women shun treatment

Section of the Midwives attending the International Day of Midwives on Wednsady at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital (FILE PHOTO)

Gulu, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT |  Gulu District Health Department has raised a red flag on the rising cases of uterine fibroids as the affected women shun treatment for fear of stigma. Fibroids are abnormal growths in or on a woman’s uterus with the enlargement of tumours, which manifests with irregular menstrual bleeding and chronic pain in the pelvic among others.   

At least 110 women have been admitted to different health facilities in Gulu with fibroids over the last two years. The condition is predominant among women between 20 and 35 years of age. Forty-four women were admitted to various health facilities in the District in 2019 with fibroids. The number increased to 68 women in 2020.

St. Mary’s Hospital Lacor registered the highest number of cases in December last year with 25 women. Romanson Elvis Okello, a Biostatistician at Gulu District Health Department told URN recently that the condition accounts for 0.8% of general admissions in the health facilities in the district. Okello explains that the district is still struggling to ascertain the factors explaining the rise in the condition. 

Dr. Baifa Arwenyo, the Head of the Gynecology Ward at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital revealed that the unit currently receives between 4 to 6 women with the condition on a weekly basis. She revealed that three women undergo operation within a week, adding that many of the women report to the facility with advanced conditions of the disease.   

Arwenyo explained that many of the women are afraid of discussing the condition with their husbands and thereby end up avoiding treatment at an early stage due to stigma. She however noted that the disease is mostly showing up in women who overly take long to get pregnant and shun exclusive breastfeeding among others.  

Dr. Filda Anicia, the In-Charge of the Reproductive Health Uganda Clinic in Gulu, says they receive at least ten women with fibroids each week.  She says that the women go to the facility for antenatal services thinking they are pregnant yet they have grown fibroids.

Tony Okello, a resident of Laroo-Pece Division in Gulu City, says he was afraid to discuss the condition his wife was going through with his family members for fear of stigma.  “It’s was a very hard decision to take whether to share the problem we were going through with the parents until the condition required an operation,” Okello



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