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'Increase in fistula cases': Darfur Health Minister

October 15 - 2015 EL FASHER
An obstetric fistula patient at a fistula centre in Khartoum (Shannon Egan/IRIN)
An obstetric fistula patient at a fistula centre in Khartoum (Shannon Egan/IRIN)

The Minister of Health of the Darfur Regional Authority (DRA) reported on Tuesday that the maternity mortality rates increased in Darfur since 2006, owing to the rise of urinary fistula cases.

DRA Health Minister Ferdaus Abdelrahman told reporters in the North Darfur capital El Fasher that according to surveys conducted during the period between 2006 and 2010 the number of fistula cases significantly increased, causing a rise of maternity mortality rates, especially in South and West Darfur.

She announced the start of a new survey of urinary fistula in all five states of Darfur.


Obstetric fistula refers to a rupture of tissue that results in an opening between the vagina and the bladder or the rectum, or both, which is repairable only with surgery. Most often, it occurs when a woman endures obstructed labour without appropriate medical care. The lack of medical attention and trauma affects the baby as well, and many die as a result.

Symptoms are urinary or faecal incontinence and can lead to severe infections and ulcerations of the vaginal tract. Sufferers of obstetric fistula are often subject to severe social stigma owing to their smell and perceptions of uncleanliness.

The root causes of fistula are often poverty and the low status of women and girls. Malnutrition in children contributes to the condition of stunting where the skeleton, and therefore the pelvis, do not fully mature. This stunted condition can contribute to obstructed labour and therefore fistula.

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