My Pain Has Gone: Ending Obstetric Fistula through Case Identification

Alem Sifab, 16, lives in Kalala worda, Wollo, Amhara Regional State. She was pregnant and expecting a healthy baby. When the time came for her to deliver, her labor lasted several days. Finally she was taken to a health center, and gave birth to a stillborn baby.


As a result of a difficult and prolonged labor, Alem developed an obstetric fistula. She began to leak urine. During Amref Health Africa fistula identification campaign conducted in collaboration with Bahir Dar Hamlin Fistula Center and South Wollo Zone health offices, she was identified as one of fistula cases in her area.
Alem described the situation in her own words:


I was a 12 years old girl when I got married. I gave birth my first child at the age of 16. I underwent and endured a prolonged labor, which took three days. My labor showed no progress. I was then taken to a nearby health center but it was late. I finally gave birth to a stillborn baby, which did not survive. I later recognized I began to leak my urine. I learnt from health care providers that it was the prolong labor that caused this. I was advised to go to Addis Ababa to get better treatment. I couldn’t manage to travel to Addis Ababa due to family and financial issues. What I would do is nothing, but longing for just a day some miracle to happen. I suffered from this tragedy for almost 8 months until one day a Health Extension Worker, who knew my situation came to my house with a good news. It was the brightest day in my life. This health worker told me that there is an organization called Amref Health Africa, which provides an outreach service to those who suffer from obstetric fistula. She gave me details saying,


“Amref Health Africa would arrange everything to help you get treatment, including your transport cost. Your responsibility is to get ready to go to Kelela health facility where this service is given to patients like you.”


Not long after hearing this news, Alem was able to attend the first screening at Kelela Health center and travel to BahirDar Fistula Center where she received the treatment, which involved surgery. Amref Health Africa made all the necessary arrangement and paid for her transportation to BahirDar. Her surgery went well and her injury has gone. Alem is grateful that the pain she went through has now gone.


“Thanks to Amref Health Africa and the Government, I am now free from the burden of the obstetric fistula and associated social problems; I can attend any family and community gathering without fear and embarrassment as I do not leak urine anymore,” Alem said with smile on her faces.


Alem is receiving a training from the rehabilitation center she is in.


“The center provides me with a training based on my interest and I have already chosen a business area I would like to engage in. I hope that I will get the skill I need and start my own business after I get back home,” she said.


Alem promised to share with her community the dire experience she went through as well as what she has benefited from Amref Health Africa’ Fistula Identification and Treatment Program. She also vowed to support others in connecting themselves to the treatment center and get the support she has obtained.


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My Pain Has Gone: Ending Obstetric Fistula through Case Identification