UNMISS transports fistula-affected women to Bentiu for treatment
Rebecca Simon spent 18 years without a single child. She traveled to Kenya, Uganda and Sudan, but was unable to find a doctor who could treat her condition. Now, after having been airlifted by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan from Pariang for surgery in Bentiu, her fistula problems are bound to be over.
“I am very thankful to UNMISS for transporting us with their flight. We may have heard about these doctors [temporarily in Bentiu] on the radio, but we would not have been able to come here on our own. Now a doctor has operated me successfully and I am sure this is the end of my suffering,” Ms. Simon says. “God will bless them, and I am calling on other women who have this problem to register and come for treatment. It is free of charge.”
The obstetric fistula campaign, the first of its kind in the Greater Upper Nile region, was launched by the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, and its partners to deal with the suffering caused by the childbirth injury, which is still common in poor countries.
UNFPA and others first registered affected women across the vast region, and then invited qualified doctors to Bentiu, where surgery or other treatment would be administered. To transport the patients, the humanitarians counted on the air assets of the UN peacekeeping mission in the country, UNMISS, which brought distressed women and saviours in white together.
A total of 46 fistula-afflicted women were flown to Bentiu, and 25 of them have been admitted for surgery. One of them, yet to go under the knife, is Nyajine Gatloi, who is staying at the UNMISS protection site in Bentiu.
“I was 15 years old when I started having this problem on my first delivery. My child died inside and stayed there for three days till I was taken to Lankien for surgery to remove the dead body in my womb, and that process left a hole in my private parts” she says, eagerly waiting to have her fistula problem resolved shortly.
About one third of the surgery-admitted women have already undergone the procedure.
Dr. Saed Hamed, works as a consultant for UNFPA on the ongoing fistula campaign and wants to ensure those who suffer can be assisted also when he is no longer around.
“I have operated eight patients and they are now ok. We have also trained local doctors on how to handle some cases related to fistula when we have left Bentiu,” he says.
One satisfied patient is Nyabol Deng from Pagak, who talks about the immediate impact of her surgery.
“In two days I can see a big difference. As you can see, my urine is now flowing through this tube, but before the operation would just just leak at any time and I had no control over it,” she says.
An obstetric fistula is a condition that occurs when the process of delivering a baby ruptures the wall between the bladder and the birth canal. The resulting hole causes recurrent and uncontrolled leakage of both urine and stool.