Ethiopian doctor explains tragic consequences of fistula

Fistula really is "a tragedy on many levels", according to one Ethiopian surgeon.

Dr Mulu Muleta, who has spent the last 18 years treating women with fistula in the African nation and is co-chair of the FIGO Committee on Fistula, said that in addition to the physical injuries experienced by sufferers they are often subjected to serious social abuse.

The world's two million fistula sufferers are regularly faced with divorce, exclusion from religious activities, separation from their families, poverty and malnutrition, he noted.

According to the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, women develop fistulae in around two out of every 1,000 births, with an estimated 26,000 Ethiopian women currently living with the disability.

It says the problem is largely due to a lack of access to trained health professionals during birth, with 94 per cent of deliveries not attended by a health professional.

Obstetric fistula is a complication of pregnancy which causes a hole to develop in a woman's vagina, leading to the creation of a passageway between this and her rectum or bladder. ADNFCR-2094-ID-19230004-ADNFCR