The NEWS (Monrovia)

Liberia: 100 Fistula Victims to Undergo Operations

The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare through the Liberia Fistula Project in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)-Liberia last Friday launched the 2012 mass fistula repair campaign in Gbarnga, Bong County.

Fistula is a condition mostly caused by complications women and girls experienced during child birth which make them to urinate and defecate unknowingly.

The lead surgeon of the Fistula Project in Liberia, Dr. John Mulbah said the campaign is in continuation of previous campaigns in 2008.

He disclosed that during the campaign, about 100 fistula victims would undergo operation in an effort to restore their dignity.

Dr. Mulbah disclosed that the fistula repair campaign will be extended to Nimba, Grand Gedeh and Maryland counties.

He said the campaign provides opportunity for more fistula victims to undergo operations.

The Lead Surgeon recalled that in 2011, 91 fistula victims underwent operations just in 10 days, saying "this is why we carry out the campaign to reach out to more victims."

Dr. Mulbah said unlike previous campaigns when foreign doctors were brought in to form part of the process, this year's campaign would be carried out by local doctors who are well trained to perform the task.

He called on pregnant women to give birth at health centers which, he observed, is key to preventing fistula.

Dr. Mulbah lauded UNFPA for its continuous support to the fight against fistula.

Speaking during the program, UNFPA's Advocacy and Communication Officer, Calixte Hessou said the campaign is geared toward restoring the dignity of fistula victims who have been dehumanized by the illness.

He said UNFPA attaches importance to the fight against fistula because it wants to directly impact women and girls who are the victims of the sickness.

Mr. Hessou assured his institution's commitment in the fight against fistula. The UNFPA Advocacy and Communication Officer lauded government for its commitment and support to the fight against sickness.

Earlier, the Program Assistant of Liberia Fistula Project said since the project was launched in 2007, 939 fistula victims have been successfully treated.

Madam Marlene K. Tokpa said over 200 health workers have been trained to treat fistula victims.

She disclosed that several treatment sites have been established in most of the counties to treat victims of the sickness.

The Program Assistant said the project targets three key areas including prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.

However, Madam Tokpa said the project focuses more on prevention because it is the surest way of combating the sickness.

She revealed that following their treatments, the fistula survivors are given skills training in several areas including soap making, pastry, cosmetology, tailoring, among others.

At the end of the training, she said the survivors are given starter kits as per their areas of skills acquired along with US$100 to begin new life.

For his part, Zack E. Monger who spoke on behalf of Bong County Superintendent called for the collective effort to combat fistula.

He stressed the need for fistula awareness campaign in schools so as to educate women and girls on the prevention of the sickness.

Mr. Monger called on government to establish health facilities not only in urban areas but also rural areas to ensure that women and girls have better health care.

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