New Fistula Centre sees its first patients
Once again women from some of Nepal’s most remote areas walked and travelled by bus, often over several days, to reach INF’s recent fistula camp. The camp drew to a close last week having provided treatment to 36 patients in its new home - the first purpose built Fistula Centre in Nepal.
Obstetric fistula, a hole in the bladder or bowel, caused by prolonged obstructed labour, causes ongoing incontinence. Women often suffer the isolation and humiliation of this physical challenge for decades, unable to seek treatment due to poverty and geographical remoteness.
The new Fistula Centre is still under construction but parts of the building were ready for use including the new kitchen. This was transformed into a ward. Twenty-two operations were undertaken in the government hospital nearby.
“I am excited to see the beautiful building so nearly ready and look forward to being able to offer treatment to women with fistula through the year, not limited to the camp dates,” says gynaecologist Shirley Heywood. She is the visionary doctor who has been instrumental in the Fistula Centre’s development. “Every year there have been women who contacted us but couldn’t come during the limited camp period for different reasons. This year several women who hoped and planned to come were prevented because of local strikes.”
Lila had been leaking urine for the past 28 years when she arrived at the fistula camp. Having grown up in a poor farming family she had never been to school. Soon after her father died she was married and life was challenging. Lila’s husband was only able to earn a meager income making tools.
During Lila’s first pregnancy she labored at home for five days. Sadly she lost her baby and became incontinent from an obstetric fistula. Since then Lila has had six pregnancies, and lost another baby.
Lila believed these tragedies were her karma until she found out about INF’s fistula camps. She and her 14 year-old son travelled for two days on a bus and walked for four hours to reach the camp. Lila had surgery that is healing well and for the first time in almost three decades she is dry.
While she continues to grieve for the loss of her two babies she is regaining strength and dignity.