Opinion

Fistula in Haiti is a little known affliction that incapacitates hundreds of women unnecessarily

23 May 2018

Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 23 May 2018 --- May 23rd brought back the International Day for the Elimination of Obstetric Fistula. Obstetric fistula is a serious and dangerous lesion that can occur during childbirth or sexual violence.

 

The occurrence of obstetric fistula is directly linked to one of the main causes of maternal mortality: difficult labor during delivery or lack of adequate obstetric care.

 

Women with obstetric fistula suffer from permanent incontinence, feel shame and social discrimination. In the long run, this preventable condition also leads to chronic medical problems, such as skin infections, kidney problems, or death in the absence of treatment.

In Haiti, this disease usually affects the most marginalized members of society, namely young, poor and illiterate women and sometimes girls in remote areas. Many of them do not use treatment services, either because they do not know that the fistula can be cured, or because they cannot afford the cost of the operation.

In Haiti, the latest official EMMUS data indicates that nearly 60% of deliveries take place at home and maternal mortality remains high at 529 deaths per 100,000 live births. There are about 15% complications related to childbirth. Such indicators, together with socio-economic determinants, puts the women and girls of Haiti at high risk of fistula.