Kampala, Uganda | URN | Health workers conducting repairs on victims of Obstetric Fistula are concerned by the lack of spouse support for patients, a tendency that frustrates effective case management.
Obstetric Fistula is a health condition that leaves a hole between the birth canal and the bladder or rectum caused by prolonged, obstructed labour without treatment. Women in this condition often leak urine and faeces.
Although the problem can be corrected through specialized intravaginal surgery, postoperative care and physical rehabilitation offered to victims, specialists say that they are frustrated by the men’s failure to support their partners.
Reverend Sister Doctor Imelda Nabukalu, the Director of Fistula program at St Joseph’s Hospital Kitovu in Masaka district, says they are struggling to support the complete recovery of victims in the absence of their partners.
She says that the majority of the patients are also reporting cases of neglect by their partners and feel already condemned which worsens their conditions both socially and psychologically.
According to Nabukalu, lack of spousal support is greatly affecting the rate at which their patients respond to treatment, and as such, some take longer periods to heal.
Records show that only five, out of the 105 fistula patients that have been registered at the ongoing camp at the hospital, were accompanied by their partners, despite the treatment being free of charge.
Dr Nabukalu adds that in most cases, health workers also wish to pass on healthcare guidance messages to couples, which can hardly be done in the absence of men.
She has appealed to men to be courageous and stand with their partners to see them through the challenging situations, right from the time of pregnancy throughout seeking antenatal care and the after delivery.
Charles Ekeru, one of the five men currently attending to fistula patients at the Kitovu Hospital ward says that he travelled from Soroti to attend to his sister who was abandoned by her husband upon presenting with the problem.
Ekeru has also challenged fellow men to stand with patients and help them regain their dignity.
Records at the facility indicate that a total of 5,259 mothers have had their fistula repair conducted at Kitovu hospital since 1999. Doctor Nabukalu says that 99 per cent of these have fully recovered and 321 of them have successfully had children after surgery.
The 2018 estimates by the Ministry of Health show that the country registered about 1,900 fistula occurrences annually, by the number had dropped from more than 2,000 cases five years ago.