Mangochi — African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF), an international non - governmental organisation has called on journalists in Mangochi to exclusively cover fistula cases which continue to be on the increase in the district.
Project Officer for AMREF in Mangochi, Charles Suya was speaking on Friday during the orientation of journalists from different media houses at the district's chamber hall.
Suya said journalists have an important role to play in disseminating information to the public in order to be aware about various maternal and child health issues including fistula.
He challenged the media to be proactive in giving out information to communities on the need for early health seeking behaviours, particularly with regard to fistula because of its numerous socio - economic impact.
"It is a known fact that fistula condition takes away one's dignity as they cannot participate in different community activities. People need to be told that fistula can be repaired," Suya said. Earlier, Mangochi District Hospital Health Education and Communication Officer, Arnold Mndalira said the district is among a few districts which record high numbers of fistula cases and that the is usually constrained to treat such women who need special attention.
"I wish to express my sincere gratitude to AMREF for coming in to assist women who have fistula by referring them to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital for treatment since as a hospital we do not have adequate staff and resources to conduct repairs on own," Mndalira said.
Mndalira attributed the high number of fistula cases in the district to early marriages and absconding antenatal by pregnant women.
He said girls who are less than 18 years of age and become pregnant were the majority victims since their bodies are not mature therefore leading to breaking of the cervix during child birth.
"It is also not advisable for women who are above 36 years of age to give birth because muscles in their cervix can no longer stretch normally as it was in the past. The cervix may break during child birth leading to fistula," Mndalira observed.
District Information Officer for Mangochi, Arnold Namanja applauded AMREF for recognizing media as a critical tool which could help in fighting fistula in the district, saying such working partnership was essential in achieving a common goal.
Namanja who is also Mangochi Press Club president while asking other partners to emulate the example set by AMREF pleaded with the organization to persistently engage journalists in different activities to reach out to hard to reach areas.
AMREF has since its introduction in Mangochi last year helped to repair 60 women with fistula condition within a period of six months. According to Suya, plans are currently under way to help more women who have similar problems in Mangochi.
"By next week, we would to get out to Makanjira, Nankumba and Katema with open days activities as a way of mobilizing women with such conditions so that they have their fistula repaired," he disclosed. AMREF is presently implementing a 'Staying Alive' project in the district. Principle beneficiaries of the project are women of child bearing age. AMREF Health Africa is a Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) Project implemented only in Mangochi.