Zombo, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Zombo district authorities have registered 57 cases of obstetric fistula, especially among young mothers below 20 years over the past two years.
The leaders blame the obstetric fistula cases on the high rate of teenage pregnancies registered in the past two years resulting from the COVID-19 induced lockdown.
Records from the district probation department show that 5,890 cases of teenage pregnancy were registered over the past seven months.
Dr. Mark Bramally, the Zombo District Health Officer says that they have already noted an increase in obstetric fistula cases resulting from teenage pregnancies.
Bramally further cites lack of capacity in health facilities and poor staffing as some of the factors fueling the current surge in fistula cases in the district.
An obstetric fistula is an abnormal opening between a woman’s genital tract and her urinary tract or rectum. The condition is caused by prolonged, obstructed labor which often leaves women leaking urine, feces or both.
Dr. Emmanuel Odar, a fistula surgeon and consultant gynaecologist at Arua Regional Referral Hospital, says that although some benefit from surgeries, others live with the condition for life because the operations are not readily available.
James Oruna, the LCV chairperson of Zombo district says that they have intensified sensitization against the problem. He has urged women to seek treatment once they contract the condition.
“Health facilities like Agyermach health center in Warr sub-county have been identified as a treatment center for fistula patients and the medical help is for free,” he said.
The Ministry of Health estimates that at least 200,000 women in Uganda are living with fistula and 1900 new cases occur each year. According to the Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (2016), 2% of Ugandan women aged 15–49 had experienced obstetric fistula, and 368 women per 100,000 live births died of birth-related causes.