Government in partnership with UNFPA with funding from the Embassy of Iceland has launched the Bridging Hope: Empowering Women with Obstetric Fistula project in Nkhotakota district.
Director for Health Sector and Intergovernmental Coordination, Dr Aamon Nkhata said on Friday at Nkhotakota District Hospital that the project is very important as the district has a lot of cases of fistula coming from under aged.
”Most of these cases are coming from early and teenage pregnancies, thereby having complications like fistula,” he said.
Nkhata said the project will help in the accessibility of the services like repair, awareness to get early treatment adding that the project is not only for repairing fistulae, but also contraceptives so that young girls do not have early pregnancies as well as management of sexually transmitted infections among others.
He explained that most of the women in the villages have lost lives, had secondary infections and were stigmatized from the community due to fistula condition.
”Fistula management has brought hope to the women so that they can live a normal life,” he said.
UNFPA Resident Representative, Nelida Rodrigues said the project marks a significant stride towards addressing a critical issue that affects women and girls in Malawi.
”Obstetric fistula affects women who lack access to quality obstetric care. Its prevalence is also seen among women living in communities whose cultural practices encourage early marriage, a factor that increases the risk of prolonged obstructed labour,” she said.
According to her, it is estimated that in Malawi about 20,000 women and girls are living with the devastating, yet preventable and treatable childbirth injury.
She said through the collaborative efforts they affirm their commitment to ending the suffering and stigmatization associated with obstetric fistula.
Rodrigues further said the project will not only provide medical treatment but also serve as a safe space for women, offering them a path to recovery and a chance to reclaim their lives.
Head of Mission at the Embassy of Iceland, Inga Dora Petursdottir said Iceland is proud to be part of the commitment to assist girls and women in Nkhotakota.
With the coming of the project in the district, appropriate services and quality of care to address obstetric fistula, reintegrate women back into productive life and work with different stakeholders to prevent it is a step towards realizing women’s rights, she observed.