US Doctor Says More Needs to Be Done to End Fistula in Liberia
Monrovia – An American medical doctor, who was in the country to surgically fix women and girls suffering from fistula, has praised the Liberia government for its campaign to eradicate fistula from the country.
Dr. Ambereen Sleemi, a fistula surgeon and executive director of International Medical Response, however, warned that for Liberia to truly achieve this feat of eradicating fistula, more needs to be done in the health sector.
Responding to a question of what she had seen over the few days that she and her colleague had had to handle fistula-related cases if there will be a day soon where there would be no more fistula cases in Liberia, she stated: “Ultimately yes, that is the goal. But I think it will take decades of hard work because there are not enough surgeons that are repairing fistulas.”
So, to help towards that goal, she and her colleague, Dr. William Meyer, Jr, an Obstetrician Gynaecologist (OBGNY), as part of their outreach, including repairing and preventing, they also train young Liberian surgeons to make them more efficient, comfortable and competent in fixing fistulas. She added: “Everybody is making their best efforts, but we still have a long way to go.”
Drs. Sleemi and Meyer were in Liberia under the auspices of the Reproductive Maternal Newborn Child Adolescent Health (RMNCAH) Foundation founded by Dr. John Mulbah, a Liberian OBGYN.
During the week of their visit, they along with a team of local doctors, led by Dr. Mulbah, carried out a campaign, which surgically fixed the fistula conditions of at least 26 women on gratis.
This marks Dr. Mulbah’s Foundation’s second Fistula Repair Campaign. The first one, which was held in September 2018, treated 21 women at the C.B. Dunbar Hospital in Gbarnga, Bong County.
The campaign to surgically repair the 26 women with fistula was funded by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) through the Liberia Prevention of Maternal Mortality (LPMM).
Emma Gladour, one of the 26 women, praised the RMNCAH Foundation and the team of doctors for restoring their health and dignity.
Emma, a mother of five, had lived with fistula for the last 26 years. “I am feeling so fine after the people finishing working on me. I have been suffering from this sickness since 1992. I really hadn’t heard that there was any hospital or someplace where they could work on people with this condition,” Emma narrated as she beamed with a smile from her hospital bed at the Family Medical Center in Paynesville.
She said she was forced to isolate herself from her family and children because of her condition.
Emma has meanwhile called on other women suffering from fistula, commonly known as “pupu and peepee” sickness not to allow the shame associated with it to keep them from coming out and find help.
RMNCAH Foundation is a not-for-profit organization launched in August 2018 by a team of experts in clinical services, public health, health services training and education, and behaviour change communication to contribute to the provision of quality Emergency obstetric and new-born care (EmONC), sexual and reproductive health, gender-based violence including fertility treatment and cervical cancer prevention and screening services in Liberia.