Doctors performing free surgery on a fistula patient in River Gee County
About 10 women in Southeast Liberia have benefitted from free fistula surgery conducted by a team led by Lead Fistula Surgeon, Dr. John Mulbah along with three other surgeons. Dr. Mulbah said the activities were supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) with funding from Zonta International.
He said the Liberia Fistula Project, established in 2008 with support from UNFPA and partners, has made progress towards eliminating fistula and supporting fistula survivors through its three-pronged strategy of prevention, treatment and social reintegration. The project has supported over 1,300 fistula repair surgeries for women and girls in need and rehabilitate one-third of them.
UNFPA Assistant Representative Dr. Philderald Pratt, said the agency was keen on supporting the Government of Liberia to create a safe environment where women and young girls would enjoy good health. He said pregnancy should not be a “death sentence” or a condition which leads women to be rejected by society just because they did not receive the adequate and timely emergency obstetric care during childbirth which made them to develop fistula.
Dr. Pratt urged for continued support to the healthcare delivery system of Liberia; especially provision of logistics and capacity building of health workers. At a one-day meeting recently held in Fish Town River Gee County to discuss factors promoting obstetric fistula in Liberia, stakeholders stressed the need for close collaboration if fistula is to be stopped in the country.
The meeting brought together religious leaders, youth groups, local government officials, health authorities, Trained Traditional Midwives (TTMs) as well as health partners. It was part of week-long activities to raise awareness on the issues of fistula and its effects on the society.
Speaking at the program, the Director of Family Health Division, at the Ministry of Health Dr. Joseph Kerkula said working to improve the maternal health sector of the country requires efforts of everyone, including community members.
Dr. Kerkula called on TTMs in the area to join the fight against maternal death by always taking pregnant women to health facility for delivery. River Gee County Health Team Officer, Dr. Trokon Washington, outlining challenges in the provision of healthcare services in the county said, many people including pregnant women do not have access to health facilities.
According to him, many persons have to trek more than 5 kilometers before accessing healthcare services. He disclosed that as part of efforts to reduce the number of women dying or developing fistula during childbirth, the River County Health Team has established district health teams across the county to directly work with community members and TTMs to ensure timely referral of pregnant women.