Cultural stigma is among factors discouraging majority of women affected by obstetric fistula from seeking medical attention in Jonglei State, according to Bor Civil Hospital authorities.
An obstetric fistula is a hole between the birth canal and rectum or bladder that is caused by prolonged obstructed labor, leaving a woman with uncontrolled urine or feces or both.
Speaking to Eye Radio in Bor town at the weekend, a medical doctor stated that, although the hospital can’t provide an exact figure of fistula cases in the state, most of the women turn up only for help during widespread campaigns to end fistula in the communities.
“There are cases of fistula but they hid themselves. They don’t report to the hospital unless when they hear there is going to be a campaign aimed at helping them. The reason why they hid is because of stigma,” said Mayen Juuk, associate clinician at the state-run hospital.
“If you asked me now of figures of fistula case, I wouldn’t give you any figure because they don’t report themselves and I know they are there.”
According to the Ministry of Health, since 2006, over 60,000 obstetric fistula cases have been registered in South Sudan.
The United Nations Population Fund says risk factors causing fistula across the country include early and forced marriages, teenage pregnancy, poor health infrastructure and poverty.
In 2018, UN Population Fund said 75 percent of women treated for fistula in South Sudan testified to being abandoned by their husbands and family members.
Early this month, the government launched a five-year National Obstetric Fistula Strategy aimed at ending the condition across the country.
The strategy outlined an action plan, development and application processes, areas of priority, roles and responsibilities, financing and resourced mobilization mechanisms.
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