UNFPA reports on fistula treatment in Malawi

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has highlighted some of the steps it is taking to combat obstetric fistula in Malawi - a country where it claims the prevalence of the condition can be put down, in part, to the high rate of child marriage.

Fistula, which develops during prolonged or obstructed labour, consists of a rupture in the tissue between a woman's reproductive tract and excretory system. This causes incontinence, leading to patients being ostracised from their communities.

According to Voice of America, the UNFPA now conducts two 'fistula camps' in Malawi every year and has to date provided repair surgeries for 600 women. It anticipates treating a further 100 patients at the next three-week engagement, which will take place in early October.

Gift Malunga, acting country director for the organisation, attributed the programme's growing success to an extensive educational outreach campaign - claiming that traditionally, fistula is perceived as "a curse, not a medical condition".

"We started with very few patients, because of the myths surrounding the area ... but when we engaged the media to create awareness in the communities, we saw more and more patients coming to our camps," he commented