The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Kilimo's Health Tip to Women

Marakwet East MP Jebii Kilimo yesterday urged women to stop giving birth to avoid complications. Kilimo called on the government to roll out a campaign to encourage rural women to seek medical care during pregnancy and while delivering.

Speaking during the launch of the 7th national Vesical Vaginal Fistula (VVF) at Kenyatta National Hospital, Kilimo urged women countrywide to take appropriate medical care to help prevent the condition. "Let us shun cultural practice of giving birth at home," she warned. The Cooperative Development assistant minister said no woman should suffer while giving birth.

The Cooperative Development assistant minister accused some hospitals of hiring untrained health personnel to help women deliver. This she says make women suffer fistula. "I am urging the parliament to allocate a certain amount of this years budget to women health," she said adding that the ministries of health should be entrusted to ensure that the money is spent to hiring trained people in hospitals.

Jelimo said that the fistula campaign should also reach out to women suffering in silence. "This campaign is a call not only to those who are suffering, but also to members of society who may know a woman having such conditions to share information that the problem can be cured or corrected at no cost," she said. The FGM campaigner said the repugnant traditional rite contributes 15 per cent of the total cases of Fistula.

KNH's CEO, Richard Lesiampe said 1,500 fistula cases are reported in Kenya annually. "It is estimated that 80% of women in Kenya use traditional birth methods hence the high number of fistula cases," he said. Ann Wanjiru, 28, a survivor of fistula who suffered for 3 years urged people not to shy away from seeking medical help since it is curable. "I got the disease after having my first born child and life suddenly changed," she remembers. "My self esteem was lowed and I could not have the courage to even go to church," she said.

She urged women to abandon cultural myths which link the problem to witchcraft. During the 2 weeks medical camp, KNH in collaboration with the flying doctors, freedom from fistula foundation and Amref will conduct free VVF surgeries to women in need and those cannot afford to pay for the surgery which costs Sh52,000 at KNH.

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