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IPS Examines Obstetric Fistula In Africa

Inter Press Service examines how women’s “low status” can contribute to the development of obstetric fistulas in women in “East, Central and Southern Africa.”

“Very young women or girls face a higher risk of fistula because their bodies have not fully developed; the continuing practice of early marriage in many parts of the continent, and the frequent absence of family planning place women at risk. … Women’s low status means the decision to spend precious money on fees for medical care – or even transport to the nearest facility – is deferred as long as possible. Many women across Africa give birth at home, and the absence of a skilled attendant increases the risk that the danger signs of obstructed labour will be missed, and there will be no one to take appropriate emergency measures,” the news service writes.

To address some of the causes of obstetric fistula, the East, Central and Southern African Health Community (ECSA-HC) – an organization that aims to encourage health cooperation – has created a regional policy document, which will be presented to health ministers ahead of a summit in Zimbabwe in October. It provides recommendations on how governments can improve health care so the condition can be prevented.

The article includes quotes from a reproductive health specialist, a member of the ECSA-HC staff and a physician who works for the Mauritian health ministry (Anyangu-Amu, 9/10).