Lack of doctors hampering fistula care in Rwanda

Women with obstetric and vaginal fistula face a painful and shameful existence in Rwanda, as they find it hard to access the medical expertise they need.

Dr Jeanne d'Arc Kabagema, Senior Medical Associate working with EngenderHealth stated that there are only two doctors in the whole of the country with the skills necessary to perform corrective surgery.

One of them, Dr Theobald Hategekimana, Director of CHUK Kanombe Military Hospital, said that while it is important fistula treatment in Rwanda improves, every woman who has access to medical care during labour needs to take advantage of it, as many cases could be prevented.

Fistula patients in Rwanda are being rejected by their families and society, according to one victim.

Alice Mutabi told the New Times how her husband and friends in the village of Masaka in the Kicukiro district abandoned her after she developed a fistula giving birth to her first child.

A 2010 United Nations report titled Supporting Efforts to End Obstetric Fistula emphasised the need to invest in cost-effective preventative measure to counter the problem, which affects more than 3.5 million women worldwide.