Saturday, May 28, 2016

Photo | Fistula patients in Borama hospital/Abdalla Ali/Ergo


(ERGO) – Habiba Ali Hassan, 24, was divorced by her husband when she developed obstetric fistula as a result of a difficult three day labour when she was having her first baby.

For four years, she struggled to keep her life together having been abandoned by her husband and shunned by friends and neighbours because of the medical condition.

“I have suffered direct discrimination from society. They told me that I wouldn’t recover or be able to get any treatment for what they called a disease that everyone said was very strange,” said Habiba.

Habiba, from Kismayo, is now recovering from fistula repair surgery at Borama national fistula hospital, where women like her are coming from all over the country for help.

“I have felt depressed for a long time, but now I have had this surgery I hope I will recover,” she told Radio Ergo’s reporter.

An obstetric fistula is a hole between the vagina and rectum or bladder that is caused by prolonged obstructed labour, leaving a woman incontinent of urine or faeces or both.

Borama hospital offers free surgery and support to women with fistula. The patients travel often great distances to get there from regions including Banadir, Lower Juba, Middle Juba, Bakool, Hiran, Gedo, Galgadud, Bari, Sanag and Togdher. The hospital, which opened in 2008, is supported by the charitable Fistula Foundation that handles pateints’ travel, supports the hospital with medical supplies, and provides counseling and livelihoods support to the patients.

Raho Mohamed Ali, 21, travelled from Aborrey village, 12 km northeast of Buloburde in Hiran, to Borama for treatment. Since arriving on 22 April she has been waiting for her operation.

“I suffered a long labour over seven days in the village,” she told Radio Ergo’s reporter in the hospital waiting room. “The people who were with me at that time tried to use force to get me to deliver my stillborn baby,” she said.

Raho’s village has no health centre able to treat fistula. However, she said she had undergone six previous botched attempts to repair the fistula.

Dr Aden Elmi Aden, a surgeon, told Radio Ergo fistula is common in the villages and rural areas, where there are few if any trained midwives and a shortage of doctors.

The hospital conducts around 100 fistula operations every three months and has operated on 2,375 women to date.

Women commonly suffer a lifetime of social rejection when they are unable to seek treatment for fistula