Big boost for Fistula victims


By Regina Pratt

Women and girls who are suffering from obstetric Fistula will now get a huge sigh  of relief following the commissioning of a new hostel for Fistula victims in Magburaka, Tonkolili district.

This was made possible by the founder and Director of HAIKAL Foundation, Haja Hawa Turay-Sesay.

In his keynote address during the ceremony to commission the new hostel, Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Dr. Minkailu Bah, commended the founder of HAIKAL for what he referred to as her enthusiasm in promoting the concerns of women, especially those suffering from Fistula.

He noted that the founder of the organization is a patriot of the country who has won many awards, thus calling on the people to support the venture.

“We do not know these women but we should restore their dignity in society,” he said.

Founder of HAIKAL organization, Haja Hawa Turay-Sesay said about 80% of Fistula cases are found in the North, with Kabala having the highest percentage, stating that the program was identified for Port Loko district.

She appealed to the stakeholders to build a Fistula Hospital in Magbruka so as to reduce the burden of travelling with victims to Freetown, noting that the Bo Fistula hostel is supported by UNFPA.

She disclosed that the project was solely funded by her and that the edifice is a 50 bedroom hostel.

The founder encouraged the Paramount Chief, wives and elders to help combat the Fistula, which she said is caused by Traditional Birth Attendants and female initiators (Soweis), adding that victims were being trained in skilled work that would empower them to be self-employed after they had been repaired.

UNFPA country representative, Dr. Bannet Ndyanabangi said their mission is to work with government and civil society organisations like HAIKAL to ensure that no woman dies or loses her baby or suffers injury such as Fistula in the process of giving life.

He said to avoid Fistula, women need to deliver in health facilities where there are trained and skilled birth attendants or midwives.

The country representative said since 2010, HAIKAL has been partnered with UNFPA in areas of advocacy, social integration and life skills training for repaired and irreparable patients.

“I would like to reiterate UNFPA’s continuous support in the campaign to end Fistula and to ensure that no woman dies while giving birth,” he said.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Sarian Kamara, who chaired the ceremony, said the hostel is for those suffering from Fistula.

“As a ministry we are still committed and also acknowledge the support of UNFPA as we need to create the awareness in the community,” she said.