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Gov’t, UNFPA To Rescue Fistula Victims 

By Edith Etong*

The Ministry of Public Health and the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, have pledged to help victims of Obstetric Fistula in Cameroon.Both parties took the commitment recently during a ceremony in which UNFPA donated some medical equipment that will be used in treating the disease.

"Obstetric Fistula is got from difficult labour, when the labour lasts for long. The pressure from head of the baby on the birth passage is responsible for the creation of Fistula," the Director of Women’s Health in the Ministry of Public Health, Doctor Martin Ekeke Monono, explained. He said also that, "this is the communication between the birth passage and the bladder and in some cases, between the birth passage and the rectum".

In 2004, the Ministry of Public Health with the technical assistance of the UNFPA, initiated an evaluation on Obstetric Fistula in the Adamaoua, North and Far Northern Regions of Cameroon. 162 cases of the victims comprise of young girls aged 15 to 19. Statistics show that, out of every 1000 births, 1 results in a Fistula.

Research has also indicated that, the main causes of Fistula are; early marriages and pregnancies, prolonged labour, insufficient emergency obstetric and neo-natal care and services, lack of referral and evacuation of potential victims to competent health facilities.
The Director of UNFPA African Regional Office, Bunmi Makinwa, told the press that, UNFPA-Cameroon, conscious of the fact that victims are vulnerable and in dire need of holistic treatment, has, amongst other major activities; recruited three foreign consultants from Mali to carry out surgical operations for Fistula repair.

He said government train local surgeons and paramedics on the above mentioned areas. He said they have offered operation kits for both the patients and doctors, carried out sensitisation campaigns and produced video documentaries on the subject. This campaign, he said, started in the North and is moving towards the East.

In this light, doctors will operate some 40 to 60 patients in Bertoua during the campaign that runs from August 17 to September 21. Already, health officials say, some 84 Fistula cases were operated upon within 9 days. According to a press release issued by Public Health officials, FCFA 200.000 covers one woman’s Fistula operation. But many women cannot afford the cost because they live far below the poverty line.

(UB Journalism Student On Internship)

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