More than 600 women in Zimbabwe have so far undergone corrective surgery for vaginal injuries, medically known as obstetric fistula, First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa has said.
In her statement to mark the International Day to end Obstetric Fistula, which is commemorated on 23 May every year, the First Lady, who is also the Health Ambassador, described obstetric fistula as a “devastating injury”.
“Obstetric fistula has a devastating social, economic and psychological effect on the health and well-being of the affected women.
“The stigma, loss of dignity and identity associated with fistula has a negative impact on their quality of life,” she said.
She said according to a study conducted by the Ministry of Health and Child Care with financial support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in 2009, obstetric fistula was a problem in Zimbabwe.
She said this research led to a mission by local professionals to Ethiopia in 2015 to learn from the country’s experience regarding management of obstetric fistula.
Following the learning mission, an obstetric fistula repair centre was established at Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital in August 2015 to provide free surgeries.
“The repairs started in August 2015 at Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital and in 2018 mini repair camps were also launched at Mashoko Christian Hospital in Masvingo. To date, more than 600 women benefited from the free obstetric fistula surgeries,” she said .
She said women with obstetric fistula can access help by calling on the toll free line 08080231.
Family Health director in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr Bernard Madzima said Government is planning on extending services to Bulawayo and Mutare.
He said currently, a clinic to cater for obstetric fistula was being built at United Bulawayo Hospitals.