Malawi to improve level of care for fistula patients, says Muluzi

Minister of Health and population, Atupele Muluzi says government is committed to contain fistula among women and girls in the country.

Fitsula surgeon Dr Racheal Pope brifes Minister Muluzi. Photo by Lisa Kadango, Mana

Visiting Fistula centre at Bwaila Hospital in Lilongwe on Friday, Muluzi said Fistula remains a biggest threat to young women and girls as far as issues of reproductive health are concerned.

Muluzi said government and founder of freedom from Fistula Foundation, Ann Glogg are working hand in hand to improve the current situation in the country.

‘’If you have been following cases of fistula recently, you will appreciate victims are now able to access to health services in both urban and rural areas compared to the previous years,’’ observed Muluzi.

He said government is making efforts to ensure that all hospitals in the country are accessible and enable all women and girls to access social services on health facilities.

Muluzi disclosed that government would ensure that those affected by fistula receive treatment as soon as possible in any nearest health facility.

‘’I am here to familiarise myself and see how we can improve the partnership with various organisations and charities that are working in the health sector on prevention of fistula,’’ said Muluzi.

He said there is initiative in the country to provide care and support and the right interventions with regards to fistula repairs, by making sure that there is adequate access to those that need the services.

‘’This is extremely important initiative and  my ministry commend Ann Glogg for the support that she continues to provide to Bwaila Fistula centre, I am here also to look at ways  in which we can strengthen this partnership to move forward,’’ stated the minister.

Muluzi added that he was impressed with the level of care, support and the level of professionalism from the centre accorded to those that need care and those that have been receiving treatment.

He said the gesture gives courage to others that have, for so long, suffered the stigma and discrimination surrounding fistula.

‘’As a Ministry of Health, we are here to improve the services and make sure that women are getting proper treatment to prevent fistula from occurring,’’ said Muluzi.

He pointed out that access was one of the main challenges rocking efforts to dealing with fistula in the country as many women come from various parts of the country and that mobility is a big challenge.

‘’Government is aware that other partners such as UNFPA also have fistula repair camp and that there is need to provide services where women need them most as one way of preventing fistula from occurring,” revealed Muluzi.

He further said there is need to improve the level of care and support to patients with fistula in order to contain the situation at all cost.

In her remarks, Founder for Freedom of Fistula Foundation, Ann Glogg said since 2010 the clinic has served 400 patients.

‘’We receive patients from all parts of Malawi and are able to pay transport for them to be treated so we are available for the whole country,’’ said Glogg.

She however said the biggest challenge is that the centre does not provide sufficient maternal health services and therefore appealed to victims to get to the hospital and get treatment as soon as possible.

Mary Maliseni from Nkhotakota District is one such woman who has lived with the condition (fistula) for a year now.

‘’I could not associate with my fellow women or walk long distances, but now that I have had my condition repaired I am able to walk properly and freely, thanks to Freedom from Fistula centre for the support,’’ said Maliseni.

In Malawi, the prevalence rate of obstetric fistula is estimated to be 1.6 per 1000 women and Bwaila Fistula Centre receives referrals from all regions as well as from Mozambique and Zambia.

Women who survive complicated labour are often affected with obstetric fistula, a condition which makes their life miserable. Around 400 women get surgical treatment for obstetric fistula at Bwaila Fistula Foundation Centre every year due to high sexual activity among young girls, especially in rural areas.

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Rachel Pope
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Corrections: Founder of Freedom from Fistula Foundation is Ann Gloag Since the clinic opened, it has served more than 1500 patients, and 400 of those has been in the last year, 2017. Lastly, obstetric fistula is not due to high sexual activity among young girls as stated in the last sentence. It is due to the lack of access to emergency obstetric care. When a woman in labor needs a cesarean section because the baby is stuck, but cannot receive one for an extended period of time, she will develop a fistula. Therefore, if every woman had access to timely… Read more »

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