NAIROBI, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's Ministry of Health should increase budgetary allocation towards prevention and treatment of fistula that is a leading cause of maternal deaths in the country, campaigners said on Wednesday.
Tanya Nduati, CEO of Flying Doctors Society of Africa, said that innovative financing combined with policy realignment and public education is key to reducing the fistula burden affecting women of child-bearing age.
"We need to give a new lease of life to women living with fistula and arm those not affected with information on how to prevent an infection. Early diagnosis is key to manage the disease," said Nduati.
Kenya is among sub-Saharan African countries grappling with a high burden of obstetric fistula that is linked to injury or infection in the female genital tract.
Statistics from the Ministry of Health indicate that an estimated 3,000 women are diagnosed with fistula in the country every year while a partly 7.5 percent of the victims are able to access quality medical care to manage the condition.
Nduati said that a partnership between charity organizations, private sector and county governments has been strengthened to raise awareness on fistula at the grassroots level.
"There is need to educate vulnerable women and girls on the dangers of fistula and alert them on the treatment options available to prevent fatalities," said Nduati.
The Flying Doctors Society of Africa in partnership with Safaricom Foundation organized a medical camp in the central Kenyan county of Nyeri to provide free screening and treatment of obstetric fistula.
Nduati said that reported cases of fistula among rural women have spiked against a backdrop of poverty, unsafe deliveries, ignorance and outdated cultural practices that prevent them from seeking treatment.
"Together with partners, we hope to break barriers that deny women suffering from fistula long term care. The condition is treatable through restorative surgery," said Nduati.
She noted that full implementation of free ante-natal and maternity services program will boost the war against obstetric fistula in Kenya.