By Nevson Mpofu
The Government of Zimbabwe with the help of technical and financial support through the Health Development Fund from United Nations Population Agency, Women Alliance Health International, Britain, Ireland, Sweden and the European Union has grappled itself fully fledged to end Obstetric Fistula.
The campaign to end obstetric fistula is in commemoration of the day which is observed worldwide on 23 May throughout the World. The Minister of Health and Child Care Dr David Parirenyatwa appreciates the work done by the United Nations Population Fund [UNFPA] since 2015 when the campaign started in the country.
In an interview with the Pan African Vision, Dr Parirenyatwa pointed out that through the support of partners, Government will fully be fledged to address thorny health issues affecting women, especially the young generation which bears the brunt of the health challenge which he sees as close to its end in the country.
‘’As the Government of Zimbabwe, we are committed to end obstetric fistula soon because we have centers around the country where the problem is attended to by qualified health personnel.
‘’We have an active and excellent center for fistula repair at Chinoyi Hospital where the problem has been tackled by well-trained Doctors and Nurses. We trained 58 Doctors and Nurses in pre and post-operative management.’’
The Government of Zimbabwe with the support of UNFPA in 2015 was taken to Ethiopia on a learning mission related to fistula. Ethiopia is one of the African countries which took it to the communities to talk about such health problems. From then , the Government of Zimbabwe launched it .Dr Parirenyatwa said a number of women in the country benefited from the program which by now is spreading wings even to the deep marginalized communities where with the multi-interventions of various organizations , clinics , hospitals and health workers , the program is benefiting women .
‘’Almost 397 women benefited from the repair surgery conducted at Fistula centers around the country .Still we need to do other repair surgeries so that all those with the health challenge can benefit . We are yet like to kick start , thus why we have this massive support from well-wishers with us at heart like the United Nations Population Agency and WAHA , Women Alliance Health International ‘’, he said
Obstetric Fistula is one of the most serious tragic injuries that occur during child birth. It is a hole between the birth canal and bladder or rectum. Obstetric fistula is caused by prolonged or obstructed labor without timely access to emergency obstrectic care notably caesarian section. The health challenge which is affecting particularly young women leaves them leaking urine, feces or both over time. This leads to chronic medical problems, chronic, the sense being that it takes time if not attended to.
United Nations Population Fund has ensured accessibility of fistula repair facilities in the country. The International organization which works with large populations to reduce poverty mainly addresses variety of challenges faced by women in general but it takes time as well to focus on gender equality and equity at fair levels in communities.
UNFPA Country Representative in Zimbabwe, Dr Esther Muia on a sympathetic note said the plight of women who face such health challenges must be addressed without delay because such women end up depressed and impinged by absolute poverty. Above all, she pointed out clearly that women exposed to severe pain end up not able to discharge of their daily duties at house hold level. This, she said results in more poverty at family and community level.
The UN Agency is working tirelessly to bring access to repair facilities in the country. The organization also compliments the work being done by some organizations working together as well with the help of the Government of Zimbabwe through the Ministry of Health and Child Care .Prevention work is sorely done at national level focusing mainly at girls because they count in terms of economic development . If girls are left behind in this battle, then the challenge derails the good work that must see the country moving towards. Their empowerment meant to reduce poverty, center on health and education and achieve Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations of which it is part of .
Dr Muia has the notion that, girls as part and parcel of the young generation needs moral health support so that they can live long happier lives and become leaders in their communities. It is the need to take a snap sharp look at women who are the mothers of children who needs support at all cost .The fact that women carry pregnancy for nine months and deliver for the sake of the nation is by no means a responsibility to look down upon .
‘’We must ensure that every woman delivers in a health facility where they can access appropriate care and emergency obstetric care in the event that complications arise during delivery . Additionally providing such services to those who want it could reduce the number of women during or being injured during child birth by 20% .
‘’The important advice is to say , let us end child marriages which are driven by culture and tradition , a propelling force of generational poverty . Fistula affects strongly in young girls because getting married at early age and giving birth is dangerous since this results in injuries during child birth because their bodies would be not mature for child birth’’ , she said.
The Campaign to end Fistula in the country is a Health issue which all countries of the World need to cherish. Several Health Experts have a comment that, this is a Global issue because what is experienced in any country is also a problem somewhere around. Dr Esther Muia takes this as a Human Right issue which Doctors for Human Rights around the World take as well. Human Rights in terms of Health center more on women because of the biological aspect of Sexual Reproductive Health Rights of all women starting with the rights of young women who face the burden.
In her concluding remarks, Dr Esther Muia condemns customs related to child marriages which she sees as the main challenge affecting many African countries. She advises community leaders to forbid child marriages because there are so many consequences in line with this socially, biologically, economically and life-style wise.