Author: BBC Media Action's Alice Mbelwa, May 25 2014 - Heavily pregnant, experiencing difficulties and far from any medical professionals, Adelina, a farmer from Kobunshwi in north-west Tanzania, wasn’t able to get the help she needed.
Complications during childbirth led to the death of her baby and left her with obstetric fistula, which is a hole between the birth canal and bladder or rectum. This serious injury is usually the result of prolonged, obstructed (often unattended) labour.
Adelina lived with discomfort caused by chronic incontinence and the stigma associated with the condition for five years.
Until one day Alfred her uncle, an avid radio listener, heard something that caught his attention.
A reporter on Haba na Haba (Little by Little) our discussion show, was telling listeners about free medical treatment to repair obstetric fistula. It was this crucial information that led to Adelina seeking treatment.
“I’m so happy I listened,” Alfred told me, “through this my relative was able to get treatment for free.”
As part of the research team one of our responsibilities is to talk to listeners and find out how they are using the information broadcast on Haba na Haba. My team met Alfred during a focus group and he explained how grateful he was to the programme.
As a result of the Haba na Haba and Alfred’s action, Adelina got treatment and can now go about her daily farming activities without pain or embarrassment.
Radio is one of the most accessible forms of media for people in Tanzania, especially rural communities like the village of Kobunshi. This is why Haba na Haba is so valuable as a source of information. Alfred and Adelina’s story showed me that, male or female, anyone with the right information can help share and act on potentially life-changing advice.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), fistula is a daily reality for over 2 million young women in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Yet uncomplicated fistula is relatively simple to fix. This blog was written for International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, 23 May.
Click here to access this BBC Media Action blog and related links on their work in Tanzania.
Image credit: BBC Media Action