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Exploring the Psychosocial Effects of Obstetric Fistula among Women in Kenya
Women in the global south continue to experience the pain of Obstetric Fistula (OF), despite the increased use of new technology in the health sector. Obstetric Fistula is a medical condition in which a hole develops between the rectum and vagina (recto-vaginal fistula) or between the bladder and vagina (vesico-vaginal fistula) after a long and obstructed childbirth where medical care is not available. The World Health Organization shows that 50,000 to 100,000 women globally develop obstetric fistula each year. In the Sub Saharan Africa, about two million women have the condition with about 75000 new cases developing yearly. In Kenya, approximately 1% of women suffer from chronic illness due unavailable medical care. This causes untold suffering and stigma among the affected women. This paper attempts to examine the persistent occurrence of the condition among the affected women, the psychosocial effects and the strategies the Kenyan government has put in place to eradicate it. This paper is based on a systematic review of the past literatures that examined the psychosocial effects of OF. The studies analysed are both qualitative and mixed method primary studies. The paper found out that the psychological effects are real and traumatizing in the sense that victims lack control over body functions, leading to anxiety, low self-esteem and depression. The affected women are mainly young girls and women who are illiterate, poor with little or no access to obstetric care, compounded by weak referral systems.The paper recommends the need for more awareness to be created especially on community perceptions, put and enhance the structures in place to facilitate access to health care. A Lukenya University Multidisciplinary Journal (LUMJ), Vol.1, August 25, 2021, ISSN 2663-3183 | 227 strong emphasis on the urgent need to develop a positive attitude towards those affected is critical for reintegration. A collaborative approach that involves the community; medical institutions and development partners should be adopted to enhance effective sustainable solutions.
Keywords; Obstetric Fistula, Psychosocial Effects, Women, Communities, Kenya.
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