Fistula: A nightmare for women in rural Liberia

Statistics from Liberia’s Fistula Foundation shows that skilled attendance at birth remains low, leading to higher rates of maternal death and injury such as obstetric fistula.

With the statistics on hand, we met Mercy Johnson, a resident of Grand Cape Mount, a county in the northwestern portion of Liberia she attributes her situation to severe labor pain during childbirth.

Mercy said following a failed attempt by traditional midwives, she could not give birth due to complications.

Men in the village were mobilized, using a hammock to transfer Mercy to the health center in Cape Mount. After nearly three hours of tracking, she got to the medical center but could not get delivered.

“The midwives could not handle the situation so they transferred me to the Health center but to my surprise, the health workers said my case was serious and recommended my transfer to Montserrado,” she said during the interview.

Upon her arrival in Montserrado, she was temporarily admitted at the Redemption Hospital,on the outskirts of Liberian Capital Monrovia.

Meanwhile, Mercy said due to the severity of her situation, she was transferred to Benson Hospital where she finally gave birth.

Mercy noted that whilst she was happy for safe delivery, she became psychologically traumatized when doctors informed her that she had developed fistula.

Since then, Mercy continues to suffer from fistula, but despite the situation she hopes that one day her problem will be solved.

At the same time, Mercy is recommending an early transfer of pregnant women, who might be in remote villages, to advanced medical centers to avoid complications.

“What I experienced was horrible and I pray no woman should undergo the same,” she noted.

Like Mercy, 22-year-old Juwah Fahnbulleh, also developed fistula after failed attempts for traditional birth attendants to deliver her.

“For me I was brought to the Hospital in Sinjai, Grand Cape Mount County but the healthcare workers could not handle my case. I was transferred to the Redemption Hospital where I underwent surgery,” she said.

Madam Fahnbulleh alleges that during the surgery, the doctors reportedly made an error.

‘After the surgery, I started experiencing urine and defecation unknown to myself,’ Madam Fahnbulleh asserted.

Doctors at the Redemption Hospital encourage Madam Fahnbulleh to visit Central Liberia—Bong County for advanced fistula treatment.

Her situation got worse due to the presence of the Coronavirus pandemic that prevented her from visiting the Phebe Hospital in Bong County, a hospital where fistula cases are addressed.

Luckily she got a doctor to attend to her, surgery was performed but the doctor insisted on her transfer to Phebe for advance medical treatment.

“About my condition, I felt really discouraged and disappointed in life because I thought I was the only person with Fistula but when I got to Phebe I saw too many other women undergoing treatment for fistula,” she stated.

For 37-year-old Marthalyn Peters, a fistula survivor who resides in Central Liberia, since February 11, 2019, she has suffered from Fistula.

Madam Sowoh N. Jacob, a trainer at the Fistula Rehabilitation Center in Central Liberia, noted that the center is at the verge of closure due to lack of resources to support the program.

She said with help from the Phebe Hospital along with American NGO—Dignity Liberia and other institutions, the program is still ongoing.

She called l on other organizations to come to the aid of these women through the donations of food and non- food items.

Dr. Jefferson Sibley - Medical Director of Phebe Hospital and Nursing School said the COVID-19 pandemic affected the care greatly, stressing that Fistula surgeries and care were on hold due to the health protocols instituted to limit the spread.

“There is an ongoing surgery at Phebe Hospital by an international Surgeon to be continued by national Doctors. The surgery started Saturday, December 4, 2021,”he stressed.


Read 323 times Last modified on Monday, 17 January 2022 06:58
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