Ethiopia: Unexpected message Danel Brhane
The condition occurs when a woman — usually one who is young and poor — has an obstructed labor and, lacking a skilled birth attendant and emergency obstetric care, does not get a Caesarean section when she needs it. The obstruction may occur either because her pelvis is too small, the baby is badly positioned, or its head is too big. Underlying causes include childbearing at a very early age, poverty, malnutrition, and lack of education. According to Welela, the young mothers who often visit the center have problems with literacy. She also says that the compassionate nature of the husbands in the region when compared to the rest of the country, is one thing that benefits the women. “I think the husbands in the South are somewhat compassionate and rush to take their wives to the health centers nearby. They have a sense of responsibility,” she says.
The other problem is finding transportation. And that is also what the hospital is, i.e. by providing transportation to the sick. “I think the hospital should be appreciated for the contribution it has made together with the regional health bureau,” she says lauding the role the hospital plays in facilitating transport.
After having endured difficulties for years and finally undergoing a major surgical procedure the women can finally start to lead a healthy life; however, there are patients who develop injuries to the repaired fistulas. According to physicians, this would often happen when the mothers are willing to give birth the same way they did before that consequently let them to develop fistula. Although it has always been difficult to alter traditional practices in the villages Hamlin, a pioneer in performing obstetric fistula, has always been outspoken that men should always be careful not to ruin the restored lives of their wives. "In these cases, the women have often got new husbands who display the same behavior as their previous ones. Her new husband forbids her to have her baby in the hospital and insists that she have a home birth like other village women. She's got no say and is completely under the thumb of the man," she told Population Reference Bureau of the United States. At 92, Hamlin, looks strong enough to leave a legacy of compassion and humanity in Ethiopia, her second home where she has spent a significant part of her life accompanied by her first two fistula patients at the hospital.
A major fistula hospital in Addis Ababa and four more outreach centers in the region will definitely ease the burden of the country which aspires to become a middle income country by 2025, commentators say.