As Malawi joins the rest of the world in commemorating the International Fistula Day on 23 May, 2015; young girls should do their best to avoid this condition which is preventable and treatable but nevertheless dangerous.
Studies have shown that 1.6 out of every 1, 000 Malawian women develop fistula and a lot more others are living with the condition. This is how serious the problem of fistula is at the moment in Malawi.
My emphasis in this entry is on obstetric fistula which is said to be the most devastating and serious of all childbirth injuries. According to the Fistula Foundation, “obstetric fistula is a hole between the vagina and rectum or bladder that is caused by prolonged obstructed labor, leaving a woman incontinent of urine or feces or both”.
There are many related heartrending consequences to adolescent girls and these include; preventing young girls from going to school and limiting their opportunity to actively participate in economic activities and other personal development initiatives.
As already stated in this entry, obstetric fistula is preventable. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), can largely be avoided by:
- delaying the age of first pregnancy;
- the cessation of harmful traditional practices; and
- timely access to obstetric care.
However, the best option for young girls who are also very prone to obstetric fistula due to immaturity of their reproductive organs is to simply avoid pregnancy. This is why delaying the age of first pregnancy is very important to avoid this condition.
This is also one of the reasons why child marriages are not popular in our society as married adolescents want to bear children in their marriages while their bodies are not ready.
To some young people out there, obstetric fistula sounds like a fabricated condition meant to prevent them from having sex. There is no need to know it when you have it hence it is advisable that if you fail to abstain, you better seek SRH services like condoms to avoid conception at a tender age. There are so many Youth Friendly Health Service centres in public health centres where you can get SRH services for free! Patronise such establishments and avoid pregnancies and contraction of STIs including HIV.
A number of testimonies have been made by those who have been through this condition and it is a pitiful condition which you, as a young person should try your best to avoid.
However, women with fistula face rejection and isolation and these two vices should not be encouraged in our society as people with this condition also need care and support just like everyone.
Lastly, as we all commemorate this day under the theme; End Fistula, Restore Women's Dignity, my message to all young girls in Malawi is that fistula is real and it is also very prevalent among young girls who go to maternity clinics for delivery.