Fistula in Bungoma County: A Persistent Challenge

By Treezer Michelle Atieno

Fistula cases continue to pose a significant health challenge in Bungoma County, with Webuye County Hospital reporting a backlog of 10,000 cases annually. Dr Simon Kisaka, the Medical Superintendent at the hospital, attributes obstetric fistula to birth complications, leading to stigma and isolation among affected women. Many patients find it difficult to share their experiences with family members, exacerbating their sense of alienation.

Obstetric fistula occurs during prolonged, obstructed labour when pressure from the baby’s head damages soft tissues, creating a hole between the vagina and the bladder or rectum. This condition leads to constant leakage of urine and/or faeces, significantly affecting the physical and psychological well-being of affected women.

Dr Kisaka emphasizes the importance of early screening and medical attention for women experiencing fistula symptoms. He applauds the efforts of the County Health and Sanitation department and various partners, such as the Mpesa Foundation, Flying Doctors, and AMREF, in organizing frequent fistula camps at Webuye County Hospital. These camps play a crucial role in restoring the dignity of affected women by providing necessary medical interventions.

Furthermore, Dr Kisaka reveals that the hospital, supported by its partners, aims to perform at least 40 surgeries to address fistula cases in the current year alone. Screening campaigns have already screened 268 patients, admitted 40, and performed over 30 surgeries, highlighting the ongoing efforts to tackle this issue.

The psychological impact of fistula on patients cannot be overstated, often leading to depression, family breakdown, and even suicidal thoughts. Dr Kisaka recounts cases of women, some battling fistula for over four decades, seeking treatment at the hospital, underscoring the long-term implications of this condition.

Dr Andrew Wamalwa, the Bungoma County Health Executive, emphasizes the vulnerability of teenage mothers to fistula due to their bodies’ incomplete development. He identifies Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as a major contributor to fistula cases, particularly in communities where the practice persists despite being outlawed.

To address this issue, Dr Wamalwa advocates for increased hospital deliveries to reduce the risk of birth injuries associated with home births. Bungoma County has achieved an 88 per cent rate of skilled delivery, emphasizing the importance of pregnant women seeking professional delivery services.

In addition to early screening and medical interventions, addressing fistula in Bungoma County requires a multifaceted approach. Strategies should include:

1. Community Education and Awareness: Launching campaigns to educate communities about the causes, symptoms, and prevention of obstetric fistula, while also debunking myths and reducing stigma associated with the condition.

2. Access to Maternal Healthcare: Ensuring pregnant women have access to quality maternal healthcare services, including antenatal care and skilled delivery, to prevent birth complications that can lead to fistula.

3. Support for Fistula Treatment Centres: Providing adequate resources and support to healthcare facilities specializing in fistula treatment, including funding for surgeries, medical equipment, and trained personnel.

4. Empowerment of Women: Empowering women through education and economic opportunities to improve their overall health and well-being, reducing their vulnerability to obstetric complications.

5. Legislative Action: Enforcing laws against harmful cultural practices such as FGM and promoting policies that support women’s reproductive health rights.

By implementing these strategies, Bungoma County can make significant strides in addressing the obstetric fistula burden, ultimately improving the lives of affected women and their communities.

Related posts

Transformative Dialogue Sparks Hope for Accountability and Change


The Struggle Against Nature's Fury-Floods


The Devastating Impact of Betting on Kenyan Society


The Dehumanizing Trend of Violence in the Modern Era

Sign up for our Newsletter and
stay informed

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *