Fistula 'affects 2 million in Africa'

Around two million women are currently living with untreated fistulae in sub-Saharan Africa, it has been claimed.

Writing for Student Life, Lana Goldsmith says a lack of obstetric care means the condition remains a threat to women in less economically developed countries more than a century after it was eradicated in the west.

She explains that an obstetric fistula is a hole formed between a female's bladder or rectum and vagina during long and often unsuccessful child labour – a hole which leaves sufferers unable to exercise control over their bodily functions.

Ms Goldsmith says that while fistulae can be surgically corrected, women who live in impoverished conditions are often unable to gain access to the medical treatment they require.

She adds: "The condition causes the woman to leak feces and urine uncontrollably, but the reasons for the condition are widely misunderstood in developing countries.

"Because the causes are unknown, these women are outcasted as unlucky or cursed, and the women themselves feel responsible and worthless."

One former fistula sufferer from Benin, Justine, recently revealed how she was too afraid to leave her home for nine years before receiving corrective surgery, but has now successfully reintegrated with her local community.ADNFCR-2094-ID-19100443-ADNFCR