As Malawi continues to intensify its efforts in increasing awareness in the prevention of Obstetric Fistula, this year it will again join the international community in observing World Fistula Day at a function to be held in Mzimba on Wednesday.
Obstetric Fistula, a maternal complication which commonly develops as a result of prolonged obstructed labour, remains a huge health challenge in the country with recent findings indicating that the prevalence rate is now at on percent, according to the Malawi Demographic Survey of 2015-16.
For the past fourteen years Malawi has joined the global community on the ‘End to Fistula’ campaign through raising awareness of the condition, treatment and social re-integration of obstetric fistula survivors.
Speaking during a press briefing in Lilongwe on Monday afternoon, Chief Director for Safe Motherhood Chimwemwe Chipungu said considering that fistula is preventable and repairable; all efforts need to be coordinated to end fistula in this generation.
“Let us always remember that Obstetric Fistula is a highlight of persistent global inequalities in access to health care and basic human rights for women. Locally, results show that only four women out of ten in the rural setting know about the condition against six women out of ten in the urban areas,” said Chipungu.
This year alone, 17 women from one Traditional Authority from Mzimba district, have accessed treatment from Bwaila Fistula Centre in Lilongwe with the help of one Catherine Tembo who has been mobilizing women who are affected to access health care.
The government of Malawi has over the years through various programmes intensified efforts such as training of medical doctors, clinical officers and midwives in fistula care to prevent fistula. It has also introduced community based programmes in maternal health to support rural community participation in the fight to prevent fistula.
Chipungu said it is important that communities give their support towards interventions which help girls to stay in school to attain higher education, promotion of gender equality, ending early marriages as they are also contributing in preventing fistula.
“We still face some stumbling blocks like some cultural practices which need to be eliminated or modified. Practices that perpetuate injustices and inequality between boys and girls, men and women. We need to empower the youth to access and utilize youth friendly health services in order for them to make informed choices on their reproductive health rights,” he said.
Malawi will commemorate the day with help from UNFPA under the theme ‘Hope, Healing and Dignity for All’.