KIU, Western Campus – Obstetric Fistula is a maternal health condition caused by prolonged obstructed labour. Obstructed labour is when the baby does not exit the pelvis during childbirth due to being physically blocked, despite the uterus contracting normally.
A 2016 study by the Ministry of Health estimates that 200,000 women are living with fistula in Uganda, and around 1,900 new cases occur each year, according to the Fistula Foundation. That means that since 2016, an additional 7,600 young girls have suffered from fistula.
Today is International Day to End Obstetric Fistula and the United Nations, in their statement to celebrate this day, says the best way to prevent obstetric fistula is by delaying the age of the first pregnancy, which allows a woman to be of childbearing age when they finally produce, and her body is conditioned to have a normal delivery.
Child marriage is a widespread practice in Uganda, being fuelled by among other issues, cultural practices, ignorance and poverty.
A 2011 UNICEF survey found that 40% of girls in Uganda are married before they turn 18 and 10% before they reach 15 years of age. This is the 16th highest rate in the world.
Furthermore, a 2017 World Bank study found that ending child marriage in Uganda could generate $514 million in earnings and productivity.
So, not only can stopping child marriage reduce fistula and the burden on the healthcare system, but it can also improve the quality of life and education of many girls and also earn the country more revenues, thereby improving the economy. This will translate into the creation of more jobs and the provision of better quality essential services.
As Ugandans, we should all contribute to fighting child marriage, which is a criminal offence according to the laws of the land, by informing authorities of any parents intending to marry off their underage daughters.
Emphasis should also be put on massive sensitization of communities against this practice, which has no place in modern Uganda and the world.
Picture credit: World Friends Onlus