By Morrison O.G. Sayon
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf yesterday inaugurated the newly established Fistula Unit at the St. Joseph Catholic Hospital in Monrovia.
The unit is aimed at providing free medical services to victims of obstetric fistula in the country. The government of Liberia through the Ministry of Health & Social Welfare in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender & Development with support from Women for Africa Foundation is galvanizing efforts to eradicate one of the most virulent afflictions affecting women’s health, dignity, rights and respect.
Speaking when she launched the Fistula Unit, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf said the project unit will assist young Liberian women and girls who have fallen victims of fistula. She stated that rape and sexual violence are sometimes the cause of fistula and action must be taken to address the situation.
The Liberian leader intimated that victims of fistula are mostly found in the rural parts of Liberia where no hospital or other medical facilities are found to treat the victims. She said those who dwell in rural Liberia must be reached and treated to reduce fistula.
Pres. Sirleaf then assured her government’s commitment to supporting programs intended to battle rape and fistula in the country describing rape and other sexual violence as national sickness which need to be tackled at all cost.
Also speaking, Madam Maria Teresa Fernnandez De La Vega, head of Women for Africa foundation said she had fulfilled her promise to establish a Fistula Unit in Liberia. She said a surgical team, which arrived two weeks ago, had been working and had performed surgery on 16 young women, some of them very difficult. She said her organization wanted to contribute with resources.
“I have two passions, Africa and women, and I am combining them,” De La Vega averred.
Regarding the work of the Fistula Unit, Senora De La Vega said that her organization has worked closely with the Ministry of Gender & Development and the Ministry of Health & Social Welfare. She said initial difficulties which the medical team experienced had been quickly resolved and that she was happy with the work they were doing. For the future, she said she was prepared to explore with the Spanish Ministry of Health ways to train Liberian doctors in Spain.