22 May Fistula surgery gives Chandra “a new life”
Since its opening in June 2018, INF’s Fistula Centre in Surkhet has helped many women in desperate need of life-changing surgery to restore their dignity and hope.
An obstetric fistula is caused by complications during childbirth, causing a hole between the vagina and the bladder which leads to incontinence. This can be resolved by a relatively simple surgical procedure, but a lack of understanding and the shame felt by women who are leaking urine mean it can often go undiagnosed for many years.
Chandra lives in the north-western district of Mugu, near the border with China. She was able to access fistula treatment after the birth of her sixth child – only one of whom has survived more than a few days.
She said: “For my community childbirth is dangerous and there is no help nearby. Many babies die, and sometimes the mother dies also.” After a traumatic three-day labour at her local health post, she was sent to Surkhet Provincial Hospital but unfortunately they were unable to save her baby.
A week later, on the journey home she discovered that urine was leaking from her bladder, so she was referred to the Fistula Centre.
Chandra returned to Surkhet with her husband for surgery four months later: “I am very thankful – if not for the Fistula Centre there would have been no hope for me. We had no money but everything was provided for us free of cost and now I have a new life.”
A INF community outreach team is in operation to help identify women from across western Nepal needing fistula treatment, while also raising awareness of fistula issues and how they can be prevented.