Obstetric fistula is a devastating injury sustained by women due to prolonged labour that occurs during childbirth. A hole is formed in a woman’s reproductive system. Such prolonged often unassisted labor results in a still born child. This hole results in uncontrolled leakage of urine (and sometimes feaces), leaving such women and girls rejected by their husbands and shunned by their communities.
The cases of obstetric fistula are women and girls, usually poor, often illiterate, who have limited access to health services, including maternal and reproductive health care. These vulnerable women and girls are at the heart of the D2D Fistula Project in Uganda. At the core of D2D is the over arching desire to address the reproductive health and rights of the affected women and girls and restore their dignity from a situation of hopelessness.
Whereas, globally, it is estimated that 2 – 3 million women and girls in developing countries are living with obstetric fistula, it is estimated that there are about 200,000 cases exist in Uganda, with more than 50,000 new cases occurring each year. This dehumanizing condition is preventable and in most cases treatable.
Mapping of fistula cases in Uganda shows that the majority of these cases are in western Uganda especially Hoima, Kibaale in the Albertine basin as well as in Isingiro, Kabuyanda and Kamwenge in Mbarara region. Obstetric fistula is rarer in the north east region of Karamoja.
The Government of Uganda has realized that obstetric fistula is a travesty on the reproductive health and rights of women and girls. As a result of this realization, the Ugandan Government under its Ministry of Health came up with a blue print that addresses both prevention and treatment of fistula – National Obstetric Fistula Strategy (2011/2012 – 2015/2016). Through key strategies of prevention, treatment and social reintegration, women and girls in Uganda can turn from a situation of hopelessness and despair to that of hope and dignity, thus from a situation of despair to dignity (D2D).
On this first ever International Day to End Obstetric Fistula (May 23, 2013), we at Commat Health Initiatives, through our flagship D2D Fistula Project pledge to support and double our efforts in the fight to end fistula. D2D Fistula Project is currently involved in the Albertine basin (Hoima- Kibaale area) as well as Mbarara region (Isingiro, Kabuyanda and Kamwenge).
Commat Health Initiatives under its D2D Fistula Project focuses on raising awareness about prevention and treatment; facilitating the transportation of fistula cases to camps and repair centers; as well as supporting surgical teams that carry out the operations. The D2D Fistula Project is unique in that it incorporates social integration in its continuum of care and support. This modernity has been greatly aided by the use of Mobile Money Technology, which allows the transfer of money via mobile phones.