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With Obstetric Fistula the woman will constantly leak urine or faeces, or both which is distressing and humiliating. Despite every effort to keep clean, the smell is hard to eliminate and hard to ignore and often drives people away, including the woman’s own family, and seeing as how it is most likely that her baby was a stillborn she will go through this grief all alone, the community will often cast these women out rendering them impure and infertile. Other than social stigma Fistula can also lead to chronic medical problems, including ulcers, kidney disease and nerve damage in the legs.
A simple surgery can normally repair the injury, with success rates as high as 90% with experienced surgeons. The average cost of one operation for one woman is
£120. Unfortunately, most women with the condition do not know that treatment is available, and cannot afford it. That is why the United Nations have launched a worldwide campaign called Renew, if the campaign goes to plan, by 2015 no woman will have to suffer from this condition again. The UNFPA also launched a worldwide campaign to End Fistula in 2003.
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Women in Western countries tend not to suffer from Fistula, this is because if the midwife predicts that the mother may have difficulty during childbirth she will organise for the baby to be born through a Caesarean Section. However, if the difficulty wasn’t anticipated and a Fistula develops the woman will be taken to theatre after her baby is born to repair the damage. This service is provided by the NHS.