The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has donated medical equipment to Mercy Women’s Catholic Hospital in Mankessim, Central Region to support the hospital’s efforts in repairing women with obstetric fistula. The equipment includes patient monitors, suction machines, microscopes, hospital beds, lockers, trolleys and bed sheets.
Obstetric fistula is a devastating childbirth injury that causes incontinence of urine or faeces. The equipment will enable the Fistula Unit of the hospital to improve the lives of women who are experiencing this injury. According to the Country Representative of UNFPA, Dr Wilfred Ochan, about 1.8 percent of every 1,000 births develop fistula but only 100 women are repaired in a year. He called for surgical campaigns and outreaches to augment routine surgical repairs in order to clear the backlog of cases.
Dr Ochan also stressed the need for increased partnership to support the provision of services for fistula victims. The UNFPA has been supporting the National Obstetric Fistula Programme in various capacities, including providing financial support for surgical repairs of survivors, building the capacity of surgeons, equipping facilities, and engaging in advocacy on obstetric fistula.
The acting Medical Director of the hospital, Dr Silas Amponsah, said the hospital’s fistula unit caters for patients from all over the country with the majority from the northern parts of the country. He appealed for support to enable the hospital to expand and upgrade the structure housing the unit so that more fistula patients can benefit from their services.
The acting Nursing Manager of the hospital, Ms Rose Mantey, indicated that the greatest challenge facing the unit was funding as “fistula repair which costs about GHC5, 500 is offered free of charge to the women. This includes surgery, feeding and two weeks admission.” Currently, the hospital has 25 women waiting to be repaired and they call them in as they receive funding from their benefactors. She appealed to corporate institutions and the public for support.
Dr Joseph Langa Berko, a surgeon and a specialist at the hospital, said that fistula repairs are largely successful with only a 20 per cent failure rate. He explained that the failures may occur due to late reportage, severity of the fistula, or when the patient is malnourished, in which case they do not heal very well. He gave the assurance, however, that these cases undergo a second surgery to repair their fistula.
In his statement, Dr Ochan applauded the management and staff of Mercy Women’s Hospital for their contribution to ending the plight of women with obstetric fistula in Ghana and beyond. He also called for increased effort to upgrade the skills and expertise of surgeons in fistula repairs to reduce the current failure rate of surgery.
The UNFPA representative stated that “the donation of this equipment represents a significant investment in the health and well-being of women and girls living with obstetric fistula, and it is a tangible expression of our commitment to supporting the rights and restoring the dignity of all women and girls”.