A Loophole in care
We need to talk about a small thing with big and horrible impacts. It has been called a blind spot in women's healthcare: it is called obstetric fistula. A fistula is a hole or canal that link two body parts, organs, together that are normally separate. Obstetric means the female genitals, lower abdomen and childbirth. Obstetric fistulas is in most cases a childbirth injury that is caused by prolonged obstructed labor, but it can also appear during rape. When it appears it not only causes a hole between the birth canal and the bladder or rectum so they can’t control their bladder, it is also commonly result of a stillborn child. And if this wasn't enough, the women are often driven away from their husbands, families and society due to lack of hygiene and smell from the leaking urine. Some women even stop drinking water so they don’t leak urine which can cause kidney failure.
World Health Organization WHO estimate that 2 million women in sub-Saharan Africa, Arab region, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean are living with obstetric fistula but this number is based on only the women who seek help, meaning that many go under radar because of the shame and humiliation connected to the condition. With around 50,000 to 100,000 new cases occurring each year, Obstetric fistula is still an unknown injury mainly because it’s only affect marginalized members of society − the poor, young and illiterate women in remote area that don’t have an adequate maternal care and don’t have money for caesarean. This problem is showing us that we need to work with questions about equality and to prove health care around the world so even the most, at the time, powerless members of society can get a safe and adequate medical care. Leading to a normal and healthy life, a normal life.
This medical condition is connected to a health system that is not meeting the needs of women and therefore the emancipation of women in general. Because the injure are not only affecting women’s health but also their independence and ability to earn a living and to have a social life. The core of human life as Hannah Arendt called it: To live among others. This international day is created to shine light on this women matter and to break the lack of knowledge associated with it. The United Nations UN wants to highlight women's health care and act accordingly with Sustainable Development Goal 3: Good health and well-being, including maternal health, to raise awareness and support to stop this devastating injury that is destroying lifes. Obstetric fistula is preventable and can be avoided just by having an adequate medical care for pregnant women, postpone the first pregnancy until young girls are physically mature and timely access to obstetric care. To work with awakeness and knowledges around the injury can help women that are suffering to seek adequate medical care and nonetheless work with normalizing and minimize the stigma from society. As strange as it might sound fistula are in some communities seen as some kind of wrongdoing or punishment, rather then the medical condition that it is.
The treatment for obstetric fistula has a good success rate at 90 percent (for less complex cases) if it’s done by a trained fistula surgeon. Which is a strong argument to end the suffer and terrible way of living. Because with full recovery, women can live a normal life, meaning no problem with bladder control and smell and no sequelae, they can even give birth to new children. But behind every obstetric fistula is a women in suffer – many pray to God to take their life – she need a support system that can bring her back to the life among others, to enter the agora and to fully interact with time.
Remember that it isn’t a privilege to have a good and safe health care, it is a human right. Health denot to freedom, the same freedom that lays in the concept of bio-power. But to realize that we need to spread the word and knowledge to the people. People are the core of a society and it’s what makes it alive. An organism that evolves and create: A dialectical movement between potentiality and actuality.