Research Article| Volume 36, ISSUE 1, e1-e9, February 2023

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Challenges of rural women living with obstetric fistula: A phenomenological study

  • Stephen T. Odonkor
    Correspondence to: School of Public Service and Governance, Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, P. O. Box AH 50, Achimota, Accra, Ghana.
    School of Public Service and Governance, Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, Accra, Ghana
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  • Theodora N. Yeboah
    School of Public Service and Governance, Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration. Achimota, Accra, Ghana
    Search for articles by this author



      Obstetric fistula is a devastating complication caused by a prolonged and obstructed labor. It is estimated that about 2 million girls and women continue to live with obstetric fistula while between 50,000–100,000 women worldwide develop obstetric fistula each year. This condition continues to persist and remains a major problem in Ghana and other developing countries.


      To explore the challenges and post-surgery integration needs among rural women living with obstetric fistula.


      A critical exploratory research methodology based on phenomenology was used to conduct in-depth one-on-one interviews. A non-probability and purposive sampling were done to identify thirty-six (36) women between the ages of 25 and 65. The interviews were recorded electronically and transcribed verbatim. A systematic analysis of data was then done to identify and categorize emerging themes.


      The results from the study showed that those who lived with obstetric fistulae experienced psychosocial, physical and economic challenges. Dominant among the psychological challenges identified were disruptions in social relations, divorce and loss of baby through neonatal death. Physical challenges include rashes and sores, foot drop, incontinence of urine. Economically, these women lost their source of livelihood and were heavily dependent on other family members. Support from family was also found to be key towards the post-surgery integration of the women.


      Obstetric fistula is a dilapidating condition that needs to be addressed at the micro, mezzo and macro level. Based on the findings of the study, recommendations were made to improve emergency obstetric care for women especially for women living in rural communities.


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