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Glob Public Health. 2007;2(1):64-77. doi: 10.1080/17441690600648728.

Experiences of women seeking medical care for obstetric fistula in Eritrea: implications for prevention, treatment, and social reintegration.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA.


This article presents findings from qualitative interviews with women seeking medical care for obstetric fistula in Eritrea. The interviews were designed to inform programme design for the prevention and treatment of obstetric fistula. Interviews were conducted with 11 new fistula repair patients, 15 women returning for follow-up for their fistula repairs, and five accompanying family members at Massawa Hospital in the Northern Red Sea Zone of Eritrea during November-December 2004. The women described long delays in accessing emergency obstetric care due to delayed recognition of the seriousness of the problem and lack of transportation from remote villages. Follow-up patients described improvements in their conditions, but many continued to have problems with incontinence and sexual health. Both new and returning patients lacked specific information about their condition, what to expect in terms of treatment and recovery, and how to care for themselves. The findings point to a need for community mobilization and education on safe motherhood for prevention of fistula, as well as for improved information, counselling, follow-up, and social services for women who develop obstetric fistulas.

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