Obstetric fistula is a serious medical condition affecting many women worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that each year, between 50,000 to 100,000 women develop obstetric fistula. This condition, an abnormal opening between a woman’s genital tract and her urinary tract or rectum, is often caused by obstructed labor, a major cause of maternal mortality.

WHO also estimates that more than 2 million young women live with untreated obstetric fistula in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. These women face constant incontinence, shame, social segregation, and other health problems. In Kisii, Kenya, a non-governmental organization (NGO) is working hard to address this issue and restore hope and dignity to fistula survivors.

The Daraja Mbili Vision Volunteers Youth Group has established a program to raise awareness about fistula. They provide education sessions, encourage women to seek early treatment, and facilitate the treatment process for those affected by fistula.

During the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula in Kisii town, Daraja Mbili officer Everylne Kwamboka emphasized the importance of reaching out to women of reproductive age. She noted that many women suffer from fistula after childbirth and stressed the need for early intervention to prevent the condition.

Kwamboka revealed that only 30% of women suffering from fistula in Kisii have sought help, which translates to approximately 1,850 women. She encouraged more women to come forward for screening and treatment and urged expectant mothers to attend prenatal and postnatal checkups to prevent fistula.

The organization partners with the Fistula Foundation to train healthcare practitioners on handling fistula cases and provides funding for the treatment of fistula survivors at various health facilities. Kwamboka added that they offer free transport to fistula survivors to ensure they can access treatment easily.

“Women with fistula face challenges such as fear of seeking help, stigma from the community, misconceptions about the condition, and the high cost of treatment,” she explained.

Lillian Kerubo, a fistula survivor, shared her story. She struggled with stigmatization and found it difficult to talk to a doctor about her condition. “I had heard of fistula but never thought I would be a victim until I started experiencing urine leaks,” she said. Kerubo waited until after the birth of her second child to seek treatment. With the support of Daraja Mbili Vision, she underwent surgery, which restored her confidence and improved her quality of life.

Another survivor, Roselyne Mung’ale, developed fistula after giving birth to her last child. She had a normal delivery, but soon after returning home, she began experiencing uncontrolled urine leaks. “I informed my husband, and he took me back to the health facility for treatment, although it was delayed and I suffered greatly,” she recalled. Following her repair surgery, Mung’ale resumed her normal activities and urged other women affected by fistula to seek treatment.

“Daraja Mbili Vision is here to help women with fistula, and they should take advantage of the support available,” Mung’ale concluded.

Through these efforts, the Daraja Mbili Vision Volunteers Youth Group is making a significant impact in the lives of fistula survivors in Kisii, helping them regain their dignity and live healthier, more fulfilling lives.