Women’s health in Africa: breaking the culture of sIlence.

I was traveling from my village to the city one day in a 14 seater bus. I was actually on my period but something very strange happened. I just felt very wet. Another passenger said “ madam see what you have done” when I looked under my seat there was blood all over the place. Everyone was shifting and grumbling. I got so confused and scared. The driver got so angry and asked me to go down and he said “ consequences of abortion” He dropped me and left me along the road. A woman returning from the farm took me to her house gave me water to wash and gave me her dress to wear and a piece of cloth to use as pad. I took another bus to the city and the next day I went to the hospital. I was diagnosed with multiple fibroids. When I went home my aunt told me not to go back to the hospital that surgery will destroy my womb. I kept struggling with the bleeding every month. I was drinking cloves, garlic, ginger etc. went from pastor to pastor for solution . I had severe Anemia and I couldn’t even wake up from bed sometimes. My stomach became very big and everyone was expecting a baby. Finally I became so pale that I couldn’t even step out of the house. I started following fibroid pages on Facebook, reading more about fibroids. That’s how I gained courage and went for surgery in 2016 .They removed one 14cm fibroid and many smaller ones. 5 years after, the fibroids grew again and I had a second surgery. Wasting time and delaying treatment caused me a lot ranging from fertility issues to bowel problems, physical and psychological issues as well. My quality of life has improved over time as I get to talk to a lot of people and do more research. It’s not an easy Road but I’m a survivor. Looking around me and watching other women suffering from this has kept me helpless.

Rose a neighbor was bleeding for 6 months continuously and her stomach growing large. The hospital had diagnosed multiple uterine fibroids and she was booked for surgery. She left to a pastor who promised to pray and let the fibroids come out on their own. she was told not to tell anyone. Months passed by and she became anemic and her stomach became as big as a 6months pregnant woman. Most people in the community attributed to witchcraft and started shaming her. She became so depressed. When I met her I pushed so hard and used my own story to make her feel better and accept going back to the hospital. She finally got her surgery done and she is doing well now. A lot of women have lost their lives because they are not able to share their stories and get Help.

I created a group where women could exchange their experiences but it’s rather unfortunate that African women hardly take part or share their stories mean while they are the most affected. Here is the link to my page.

Another victim is a woman with breast cancer. She was diagnosed with breast cancer 5 years ago. Before going to the hospital she had already tried to manage it at home for a long time. The only solution from the hospital was to cut off her breast. She refused and went to a herbalist for treatment. She was told not to tell anybody about it and not to show anyone. It only got worse over time. When I spoke to her she decided to go bck to the hospital. There was no longer a solution for her because the cancer had spread to much. She is now very helpless and in so much pain.

women’s health refers to the branch of medicine that focuses on the treatment and diagnosis of diseases and conditions that affect women’s physical and mental wellness

women’s health in Africa has become a call for concern the past years. The effects are taking a toll on women’s physical and mental health. One of the main reasons for this is the fact that women are not able to speak out, interact with other women and follow medical advise

It is estimated that 70 to 80% of African women will hangout fibroids over their lifetime. Prolonged delay before presentation for evaluation and management is frequently seen among many sub Saharan African women with fibroids and other health conditions.several factors play a role in the delayed presentation which includes misinformation from family and friends, lack of knowledge, herbalist and spiritual/prayer houses, wrongful deep seated cultural beliefs, self - proclaimed spiritual prophets with promises for the cure. ( Burden of uterine fibroids: An African perspective, A call for action and opportunity for intervention -p igboeli university of Nigerian teaching hospital.

This is a very relevant aspect of the life of an African woman. What exactly can be done to remedy this situation?

Revolutionary Solidarity
Sexual and Reproductive Rights
Menstrual Health
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