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UNFPA empowers 20 fistula survivors

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Twenty fistula survivors in Suakoko, Bong County have benefitted from a United Nations Population Fund or UNFPA fistula program. The UNFPA has given each survivor US$100, a Starter kit, and tailoring machine, among others.

The UNFPA described fistula survivors as people who need to be given serious attention in the country because of the disease that they encounter. Speaking last weekend in Suakoko, Bong County at program marking the 8th graduation of fistula survivors at the Phebe Hospital, UNFPA Country Director, Dr. Oluremi Sogunro, intimated that his organization’s decision to give the items to the survivors was to buttress the effort of the government, owing to the fact that it cannot do it all alone.

“We decided to give out these things because we don’t want these survivors to just go out in their various communities without carrying anything; the 20 fistula survivors who completed the six-month training course came from other counties across the country, and were awarded certificates in different disciplines, including cosmetology, tailoring, soap-making, as well as pastry, among others,” the UNFPA Country Director noted, further adding, “today, you can see the lives that were hopeless are now restored; you must get up and move as a woman, because you deserve better in society.”

He urged the survivors to make proper use of the items and skills they had acquired, warning them against allowing their efforts to be wasted.

“These girls that are suffering from this fistula sickness did not want it, but it is from the big people who are chasing after them in the community cause this to happen to them,” indicated.

According to him, adolescent pregnancy was taking over Liberia, and that it was a major crisis that needs to be stopped by the relevant authorities, because they are things that lead to fistula. “The children did not give themselves to anybody, but rather it is the older ones who call themselves big papa that are persuading them, and even giving them bellehs – a situation that leads to such sickness called fistula in the country,” the UNFPA Country added.

He noted that in Liberia and other parts of the world, people go through hard times, saying people will go through a lot of processes every day just to confirm that a child or person was raped before thinking about taking actions.

Meanwhile, the Director of Family Health at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Caullaus Jabbeh, has described fistula as a serious problem in Liberia, indicating that about 50 per cent of the delivery is done at home by untrained midwives. She said this increases fistula, stressing that after forcing the children to give birth, they continue to face problems. According to her, in 2006 a survey was executed in four counties to establish the fistula project in Liberia.

She indicated that the study showed that girls or women affected by the disease were ostracized or rejected by relatives and friends. On such basis, she indicated, the fistula project was established in Liberia in 2007, with the intention of catering to the needs of fistula patients.

“We have reached out to 8,000 community members to pass out the information to others about the danger of fistula; this program continues to build the capacity of health workers, including training of 100 nurses in fistula management to adequately respond to fistula patients across the country,” Dr. Jabbeh explained.

 By Lewis S. Teh -Edited by George Barpeen

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