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My Fistula is repaired! Now I can return to school!

Mariud, aged 19, lives in a remote village located in Mkushi District, Central Province of Zambia. Pregnant at the age of 13, Mariud developed Obstetric Fistula in 2014, as a result of a 72 hour prolonged labour.

“I became pregnant while I was in grade 7. My parents were very upset and decided to stop supporting my education. Like many women and girls in my village, I stayed to deliver at home, with the assistance of a traditional birth attendant. Unfortunately, I spent almost 3 days in labour without progress. It was very difficult to get to the nearest hospital - which is located almost 1 days’ walk from our village - because we did not have transport. Fortunately, a community volunteer heard about my ordeal and arranged an ambulance to take me to Mkushi General Hospital where an operation to deliver the baby was done. However by the time I was getting there I had lost my baby. A week after I left the hospital I begun passing urine uncontrollably, of which I later learnt was a condition called Fistula. I stayed with this condition for 5 years. I could not freely interact with my friends because of the bad smell and I had to sleep on the hard floor to avoid soiling my bed-mattress. I was very sad” explains Mariud.

I was excited when the doctor told me that my Fistula is repaired! My life is now back to normal and I cannot wait to go back to school! I also want to contribute towards prevention of early pregnancies among other young girls in my village

"In early 2020, a relative arranged for me to travel to Lusaka [Zambia’s capital] to seek medical assistance to heal my condition. We visited a local clinic in Lusaka, where I was given contact details for a doctor [Fistula Surgeon], who would assist me. Shortly after I contacted the doctor, an operation was arranged and undertaken at Chilenje Hospital in Lusaka. After just a few days, I was excited to notice that I could control the passing of urine, and the doctor told me that my fistula is repaired! My life is now back to normal and I cannot wait to go back to school! I also want to contribute towards prevention of early pregnancies among other young girls in my village!” Says Mariud with a big smile.

Mariud is among thousands of women and adolescent girls affected by Obstetric Fistula in Zambia. Through the Global Campaign to End Fistula, UNFPA provides support to the Government of the Republic of Zambia towards Fistula prevention, treatment and social reintegration programmes. Since 2005, UNFPA's support has translated into nearly 5,000 life-transforming surgeries across the country. 

In keeping with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, UNFPA and partners such as the Fistula Foundation also continue to draw the attention of policymakers, communities and individuals, to key actions and investments required to end the needless suffering caused by Obstetric Fistula, including among adolescent girls. This includes key actions to end child marriage and adolescent pregnancies.

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, UNFPA continues to support the prevention of Obsteric Fistula through the delivery of essential sexual and reproductive health services, including midwifery services and emergency obstetric and newborn care, which is key towards Fistula prevention.