THE government has extended treatment services for fistula patients to all regional hospitals in the country to help women who develop the disease to get the right treatment.
Previously, women with Obstetric fistula were being treated at CCBRT hospital in Dar es Salaam, as a result some of them failed to get the right treatment while the disease is curable. Minister for Health, Ms Ummy Mwalimu said on Saturday that obstetric fistula is caused by prolonged and complicated labour without timely medical intervention.
She said affected women are unable to control their flow of urine, faeces and blood, as a result they are often being abandoned by their husbands, rejected by their communities and forced to live in solitude and shame.
“Today fistula affects 3,000 women per year … it is caused by prolonged and complicated labour while other women are far from the health facilities,” Ms Mwalimu said.
She noted that without timely medical intervention when a woman experiences prolonged and complicated labour in 48 to 72 hours, there is a possibility of developing fistula.
To contain the problem, the minister said that the government under President Samia Suluhu Hassan has set up plans to improve maternal services in the country. “What the president has done is to improve access of maternal services and ensure that expectant mothers who get prolonged and complicated labour have access to surgery services in health centres and hospitals,” she said.
She also stressed the importance of expectant mothers attending antenatal clinics in order to know the progress of their fetus. Ms Mwalimu also called on the public to support expectant mothers so that they can reach the health facilities earlier and get the services before they develop further complications. She said M- Mama app launched in the country recently should be used effectively to help mothers to reach the health facilities because it intends to facilitate transport and save lives.
The minister further said that the government is determined to provide the best care to women and girls to overcome this problem that often leaves sufferers in social isolation and shame. She said fistula can be prevented with proper maternal care, access to medical facilities and trained practitioners with a 90 per cent success rate. “We are pleased to see more women with fistula are coming forward to be treated and the society is more enlightened,” said Mwalimu.
She said hospitals nationwide have been instructed to routinely run special clinics to raise community awareness about the dangers of fistula.