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Awareness of obstetric fistula and its associated factors among women of reproductive age in sub-Saharan Africa

Trop Med Health. 2022 Aug 2;50(1):50. doi: 10.1186/s41182-022-00443-2.


BACKGROUND: Awareness about obstetric fistula and its concomitant factors is central to efforts to eliminate obstetric fistula in sub-Saharan Africa. We, therefore, assessed the magnitude of obstetric fistula awareness and its associated factors among women of reproductive age in sub-Saharan Africa.

METHODS: Data for the study were extracted from the most recent Demographic and Health Surveys of 14 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. We included 185,388 women aged 15-49 years in this study. Percentages were used to summarise the prevalence of obstetric fistula awareness across the 14 countries studied. We adopted a multivariable multilevel binary logistic regression to examine the factors associated with obstetric fistula awareness in sub-Saharan Africa. We presented the results of the regression analysis using adjusted odds ratios with their 95% confidence intervals. Statistical significance was set at p < 0.05.

RESULTS: The average prevalence of obstetric fistula awareness was 37.9%, ranging from 12.8% in Gambia to 63.9% in Uganda. Awareness of obstetric fistula was low among never married and cohabiting women compared to married women. Compared with women with parity 4 or more, those with no birth had the lowest odds of obstetric fistula awareness. The study also showed that obstetric fistula awareness was lower among women who were working, those who are not exposed to mass media, those in the poorest wealth category, those who have never had sex, and those in communities with low literacy level. The study however found that the odds of obstetric fistula awareness increased with age and education, and was higher in urban areas compared to rural areas. Women, who had ever terminated a pregnancy were more likely to be aware of obstetric fistula compared to those who had never terminated a pregnancy.

CONCLUSION: The study demonstrated a low awareness of obstetric fistula among women in sub-Saharan Africa. Educative and sensitisation interventions should incorporate the factors identified in the present study during its implementation. To raise women’s awareness of obstetric fistula, there is the need for sub-Saharan African countries to consciously raise community literacy rate, increase access to mass media platforms and invest intensively in formal education for women.

PMID:35918762 | DOI:10.1186/s41182-022-00443-2

By Nevin Manimala

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