Yesterday was mother’s Day and I have received an e-mail correspondence from a group I belong to and support. FORWARD (The Foundation of Women’s Health Research and Development) promoting the abolition of Female Genital Mutilation(FGM), early forced marriage, and to help raise awareness and treatment of Vesico-Vaginal Fistula(VVF) and recto-vaginal fistula (RVF).
This is the following information, which I have used to highlight this terrible and debilitating condition, as a result of obstructed labour, which can be associated with FGM.
Taking Action to End Child Marriage
Child Marriage and
Obstetric Fistula is a preventable and debilitating condition linked to poverty, and inadequate provision of
primary health care including maternal and child health services. The compounding factors include prolonged
and/or obstructed labour, powerlessness and low social status of women and girls resulting in lack of
knowledge and autonomy in issues relating to reproductive health and childbirth.
Obstetric fistula has severe physical and social consequences and is one
of the most degrading morbidities resulting from pregnancy and childbirth.
Approximately 80% of fistula cases reported in Nigeria are due to
unrelieved obstructed labour during childbirth.
FORWARD Nigeria works to improve the health and socio-economic status
of women affected by vesico-vaginal fistula (VVF). Funded by DFiD and
Big Lottery since 1998, the project uses a holistic approach to address
prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and community reintegration for
women who have experienced the trauma of living with a VVF.
High demand for services and lack of infrastructure means that we need
your help more than ever.
Many victims of obstructed labour, who develop fistulae, will also often
have given birth to a stillborn baby, thus leaving the woman childless and
in some cases at risk of infertility. If the fistula is not repaired, and the
woman remains incontinent and childless, due to social pressures women
are often abandoned by their husband, on whom they are often
economically dependent. Victims often become social outcasts.
Obstetric Fistula leaves such women
physically, emotionally and socially
traumatised. With often no education,
no vocational training, no gainful
employment or visible means of
livelihood, they travel a long road of
rejection and pain.
According to UNFPA, the success rate
of fistula treatment is 90%. The average
cost of a fistula treatment and postoperative
care is $300. 2 million women
in Africa, Asia and the Arab region
currently live with this condition, and
annually 50,000 to 100,000 new cases
One women’s experience:
“My second day in labour at the hospital, the birth attendant reported my
case to the doctor on call, who decided to induce me. The inducement
ended up with no delivery. The following morning the birth attendant
insisted that I lay on the bed and push. I pushed several times without any
feeling of something coming out except the terrible pain.
On the fifth day in the hospital my legs could not hold me up; I started
becoming unconscious. On reaching the specialist hospital, the baby had
already died in the womb. The next day I had a caesarean section. Later I
was told I had VVF and RVF and my surgery was to be in stages.
On the sick bed, my mother noticed I had wasted my bed and after a while
we realised the urine was coming out without control. My family were not
happy by they still took care of me, but my husband was not caring at all.
4 days after the CS the wound was septic with urine and faeces matter
coming out of it.
The first repair was on RVF and I had the second operation nine months
later. I also got 3 repairs on VVF. These were not successful but now I
manage the condition. I have to use nappies, and when I sleep I use a
waterproof sheet.” – A VVF and RVF survivor
FORWARD is a UK-registered international non-governmental
organisation that works to advance and protect the sexual and
reproductive health and human rights of African girls and women.
The focus of our work is tackling gender discriminatory practices in
particular female genital mutilation (FGM), vesico-vaginal fistula, and
child and forced marriage.
FORWARD effects change through developing capacity, and by
building evidence to influence policy and challenge practices that
undermine their health, human dignity and sexual rights.
Charity Reg. No. 292403.
FORWARD Nigeria was set up to improve the health and socio-economic status of women who have been treated or who need treatment for VVF (vesico-vaginal fistula) and RVF (recto-vaginal fistula). Funded by DFiD and Big Lottery since 1998, the project uses a holistic approach to address prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and community reintegration for women who have experienced the trauma of living with a VVF or RVF.
At FORWARD, we want to raise money to enable FORWARD to replicate this project in Malawi and Sierra Leone.
Please consider sending a donation as I am doing and help the lives of many women. we think of mothers world wide, as another Mother’s day has come and gone for another year.These women will suffer pain, rejection from their families and a life time of suffering. There is hope with corrective surgery for many, many sufferers. PLEASE at least take the time to read about this little known condition to many people in the western world.
THANK YOU SO MUCH.