ECONOMICS

Assist women suffering silently from fistula – Margaret Kenyatta


 

Margaret Kenyatta

 

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has asked women hiding under the shame of fistula to be assisted in seeking medical help so that they can continue with their normal lives.

She said those suffering from Obstetric Fistula are usually hidden away to suffer negative emotional and psychological effects due to humiliation from their smell and inability to perform their family roles.

“I urge that we seek out more of our mothers who are hidden away while suffering from this condition and encourage them to seek help”, Margaret said on Monday.

She was speaking when she opened an International Conference on Reproductive Health at Kenyatta University, Nairobi.

The three-day conference, under the theme of “Ending Obstetric Fistula in a Generation” is part of the commemorations to mark the World Fistula Day, observed today.

Other related activities include an ongoing Fistula screening and medical intervention of the condition at Gatundu Level 5 hospital.

Obstetric Fistula is a devastating and demeaning condition caused by prolonged obstructed labour, leaving a woman with insufficient voluntary control over urination. It also causes suffering, indignity and disability. The condition is preventable and treatable.

Strong smells occasioned by this condition forces many affected women to remain in hiding away from any public interactions including being shunned by insensitive family members. Separation and divorce are some of the other consequences of the condition.

Globally, an estimated 2 million mothers suffer the stigma of Obstetric Fistula while giving birth.

In Kenya 3,000 new cases of the condition are reported annually although there are fears many more mothers could be suffering in silence and seclusion due to shame and public humiliation.

“This situation is unacceptable and should not be allowed to persist,” Margaret said.

She said childbirth anywhere in the world is a time for celebration, yet in many cases in Africa (including Kenya), childbirth ends with serious and tragic life-threatening complications that bring untold suffering to women.

“This forum (the conference) presents us all with an opportunity to seriously reflect on the challenges that continue to impede us from achieving our national maternal and child health targets”, she said.

The First Lady is the patron of the innovative Beyond Zero campaign whose key goals include addressing challenges of maternal health, new-borns and children.

She said the current generation must commit itself and find ways to end Obstetric Fistula.

“We have come together to refine our strategy, renew our commitment and put all necessary measures to ensure that we are the generation that will end obstetric fistula”, Margaret said.

She said the campaign to end the condition has enhanced the visibility and knowledge of Obstetric Fistula worldwide but observed that this campaign is still under-resourced and requires far more financial and human resources to achieve its goals.

“More needs to be done to prevent labour and delivery complications”, Margaret said, adding that prevention is the key to ending fistulae.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) aims to eradicate fistula across the world.

“Ensuring skilled birth attendance at all births and providing emergency obstetric care for all women who develop complications during delivery would make fistula as rare in developing countries as in the industrialized world”, says UNFPA in one of its statements.

The First Lady said other issues that need to be addressed include access to health services and education, including gender equality, bringing child marriages to an end and eradication of marginalization of women and girls.

She said if these issues are properly addressed, maternal disability and death could be reduced by 20 per cent.

Margaret thanked Kenyatta University for hosting the conference adding that its theme—ending Obstetric Fistula in a generation-fits within the agenda of the conference on Reproductive Health.

She was received at the university by among others, the convener of the conference Prof Margaret Keraka, Principal Secretaries Julius Korir (Health), and Colleta Suda (Education), Acting UNFPA Country Representative Gift Malunga and Acting Vice Chancellor Prof Paul Wainaina.

The Conference brings together both regional and international health partners and delegates from all over the world including Canada, United Kingdom, Pakistan and Somalia.

 

Courtesy The Star Magazine Kenya

POLITICS

WHEN THE KENYA-SOMALIA WALL IS DE-CONSTRUCTED…


Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta and the first Lady Madam Margaret at the Great Wall of China. Courtesy www.nomad.sleepout.com
Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta and the first Lady Madam Margaret at the Great Wall of China. Courtesy http://www.nomad.sleepout.com

In constructing a wall between Kenya and Somalia, the Government meant well: to keep all Alshabaab outside Kenya. This, the majority of Kenyans seem to welcome.

However, as I will soon demonstrate, the wall may and maybe will not serve the purpose. We will therefore come to see why we may need no wall in any area of our lives.

Yet before I proceed, with the polemic against walls of whatever kind, we need to know what a ‘wall’ essentially is. A wall is a fortified barrier, put up either for good or bad purpose(s).

In the case of the Kenya Government, the wall is arguably put up for the good of all Kenyans—security. And it appears the wall is one of the most ‘tangible'(solid) security measures ever implemented by a human being.

But, as we have already seen, whether the wall will ‘work’ is another matter altogether. To find out whether the wall between Kenya and Somalia is a worthwhile measure against the touchy issue of insecurity, we will recourse to ‘deconstruction’. That is a radical analysis of the wall and its purposes.

Hence when keenly examined, the wall in question or whatever other ‘wall’ we bring into consideration, defeats the purpose, and it undermines itself to the point of being useless; meaningless in other words.

But I am not saying, that the project has to stall. No. The project has to continue in so far as the people have put their faith in it. Yet whether we have a wall or not, the world, especially Kenya will never be safe(r) in the strict sense of the term.

We must always remember that ‘man’ is ‘his’ own enemy. This means that a person can be his\or her own source of destruction. Also, a person can and is always destroyed by another person. That is true no matter how negligible the damage, the impact, the destruction. Hence no wall between ‘man’ and ‘man’ will ever work. Yet if ever it works, it is mostly to our own detriment. Illustratively, the people on either side of the wall may not survive the alienation, physical or mental or intellectual.

Incidentally, for our own good, we must realize that no war has ever been physical. The fact that we may see people engaged in a physical fight will not falsify my claim at whatever level . In fact the exchange of the fists(for example) is only a demonstration of the real fight—the fight between minds, ideologies, viewpoints , biases, and so on. Hence the only real war that ever takes place is the war of minds. Might doesn’t make right. Alternatively put, two wrongs do not make a right.

And if we have to continue with our argument against wall, it will go like this: the wall will never and has never been known to lock out an enemy since the beginning of humanity. Consult the (in)famous Berlin Wall and many others. When many such barriers were destroyed, and some rendered useless, they served to show all that when a person gets tired of the wall, they must find a way to get around it, or even demolish it, since they were the ones who erected it; in the first place.

Yet again, we may think we have locked out our mortal enemies when in reality we have locked them in. What will happen?

Meanwhile, what is an ‘Alshabaab’? For our own good once more, it could be anyone with a malicious intention. Let us not forget that and not put total faith in a wall— in fact a physical one, no matter how well it may be guarded.

.By Moses Omusolo