By Mary Poni and Bida Elly David
Juba Teaching Hospital (JTH) yesterday launched a second obstetric fistula training program for internal staff.
The launch of the program came following the graduation of the first batch of surgeons from the same department.
Speaking to the press yesterday, Dr. Anthony Lupai, the Director General at Juba Teaching Hospital said the training would enable the medical staff within the department to undertake practical fistula surgery on patients bearing its complication.
“We are launching the second national training for obstetric fistula surgery team for those who have been on the ground, know that there was a magnitude of patients that are having problem with obstetric fistula of different types in the country that was stressed back and before the war and there was no care in the country,” he said.
He disclosed that about 60,000 estimated patients have been battling fistula complications across the Country while there are limited specialists to deal with such complications.
He reiterated the need for efforts to be invested towards remedying such complications in South Sudan.
“There are numbers of patients estimated to about sixty thousand (60,000) in the Country that have fistula problems, but for it to be put to a halt; a lot of effort has to be put on the ground. The ministry of Health with other partners has to work to ensure the magnitude of this problem is addressed,” he said.
On behalf of the Ministry of Health, he thanked their partners especially UNFPA and AMREF Health Africa for having contributed on the trainings to ensure that the cumulative burden was mitigated.
“We have done numbers of campaigns in the Country and the Director General in the Ministry of Health had already given us the figures that have been operated. AMREF in the last two years together with UNFPA have become focused to see that at least not only treating, but as well providing trainings to the people on the ground. Our operations, our local doctors were being trained so that they take over from the experts who come from time to time,” he stated.
Dr Lupai added that the ongoing campaign started two weeks ago targeting to cure number of patients across the Country.
“Since the starting of the campaign till now, there are 47 people suffering from fistula and they have been admitted at Juba Teaching Hospital. We are thankful that our experts were able to have surgeries, 41 of the patients have been successfully treated and 16 have been discharged. Not all the patients who come with similar symptoms of fistula need surgery since some of them will be primarily cured,” he noted.
However, he stressed that other fistula complications are not operational due to difficulties in surgery.
“There are some fistula cases that can never be operated unfortunately patients are going to live with them for the rest of their lives because of difficulties to operate when the whole bladder is already damaged. We are specifically dealing with those ones with trauma. Whenever a patient develop fistula once, there are number of other feminine issues related to labor delivery,” he underscored.
For his part, Morris Ojok the Country manager for AMREF Health Africa assured their efforts to ensure that fistula complications on women were resolved without return for further surgery.
“Today should be the beginning of existence of services that women can come walking to the hospital without sending them back to come due to absent of doctors to attend to them because there are people who have been trained.”
“We have been carrying out the training for some times and this is the fourth- fifth of its kind in the Country,” he stated.
He added that their mandate was to train medical officers to develop skills on conducting basic surgeries unless there are difficulties.
“We should be having the people that have another level of experience to provide the basic care services unless it is a complicated case that require referrals and if we can reach to that level, Juba teaching hospital will be the first,” he said.
At the same note, Dr. Ademola Olajide, the Country representative of UNFPA underlined difficulties in Country’s development without gender balance.
He pointed out that feminine fistula complication has been one of the factors that undermined women’s and men’s dignity in the Country.
“It is impossible for any Country to make development if it does not balance the capacity of both men and women and nothing undermines the capacity of individual to optimally perform being in the economy beyond things that address the activity.”
“Fistula is one thing that undermines development of dignity of a woman and clearly you cannot solve a dignity problem by misery mind, it has to be something that all of us has to come together to correct and to approach to address,” he said.
He said still there are estimated sixty thousand women suffering from fistula in South Sudan given the challenges that 60% of the health facilities are unable to offer the full range of reproductive maximum services that we required.