A colorful procession through Kajiado town last Friday marked the launch of a free surgical camp to treat obstetric fistula, organised by Amref Health Africa and the Kajiado County with support from Bayer Healthcare, the Dutch Postcode Lottery and the SRHR Alliance.
The camp is being held this week at the Kajiado District Hospital, and targets operations of at least 50 women who have been living with the distressing condition.
Gladys Marima, Minister for Health in Kajiado County, flagged off the procession, which was led by riders of the Super Heroes Bikers Club. She was flanked by Amref Health Africa CEO Dr Githinji Gitahi, Mr Roland Satzke, Bayer Healthcare’s Head of Middle Africa Region, and the Chair of the Kenya Anti-FGM Board Hon Jebii Kilimo.
Obstetric fistula is an opening between the vagina and urinary tract or the rectum that occurs during childbirth, often as a result of prolonged labour. The condition causes uncontrolled leaking of urine or stool, or both, resulting in untold suffering for the affected girls and women.
Dr Gitahi said that prevention and treatment of obstetric fistula was one of the ways in which Amref Health Africa was working with Counties and the national Government to fill the gaps in maternal health care. With cooperation between all partners, he said, Kajiado could be free of obstetric fistula.
“If all women with fistula came for treatment such as we are offering in Kajiado, and if county and national governments worked with all stakeholders to increase access to skilled attendance for women during pregnancy and childbirth, we would improve the health of mothers and reduce incidence of fistulas,” said Dr Gitahi.
Besides providing free surgery, Dr Gitahi said that the team of doctors assembled by Amref Health Africa would also train local medical staff in Kajiado to increase their capacity to handle obstetric fistula cases. He thanked Bayer Healthcare for financial support to enable provision of free surgical treatment.
Guest of Honour, Deputy Governor of Kajiado Mr Paul Ntiati promised to mobilise local business to support more surgical camps to treat obstetric fistula. “Fistula brings shame and poverty. It has no place in Kajiado. I am grateful to Amref Health Africa and Bayer Healthcare for the free treatment and I will ask businesses in Kajiado to join in this effort so that can make our county fistula-free,” he said.
Former beneficiaries of free fistula operations, Felistus Kavuli Muoki and Rosemary Wairimu, thanked Amref Health Africa for the treatment and urged other women not to suffer in silence as help was available.