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Determinants of health seeking behaviour of women with obstetric fistula in south- south and south east, Nigeria: A review of the impact of availability and quality of health care services through a cross-sectional study

E Peters Grace, N Ononokpono Dorathy, U Willson Nsikanabasi, I Oko Nnabuike, Ej Peters

Abstract: Background: Obstetric fistula is a condition that results from obstructed labour, which occurs when the baby cannot pass through the mother’s birth canal because it either does not come head first or is too large for her pelvis. Prompt medical intervention, often including Caesarean section, permits a safe delivery for both mother and child. Despite this possibility, yearly, thousands of women across the country receive no such aid and their labour is a futile agony lasting between three and five days, with uterine contractions constantly forcing the baby, usually head first, against the organs of the pelvic and unyielding pelvic bone resulting in Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF). The main thrust of this study was to examine how health system factors affect health seeking behaviour of women with obstetric fistula in Akwa Ibom and Ebonyi States, Nigeria. Methods: Qualitative and descriptive research approaches were adopted for the study and a total sample of two hundred and sixteen (216) respondents comprising of one hundred and fifty (150) post fistula repair operative patients and sixty six (66) health workers were purposively selected using simple random techniques. The data were analyzed using thematic analysis and tables of frequency. Results: The respondents views showed that availability of treatment centre and quality of health care services influenced health seeking behaviour of women with obstetric fistula in Nigeria. Conclusion: The study indicated that health seeking behaviour of women with obstetric fistula is a major challenge in Nigeria. Establishment and proper equipment of obstetric fistula treatment centres as well as subsidization of the cost of treatment to allow women with this health problem to access health care services are strongly recommended. Therefore, government at all level and non-governmental organizations need to educate the women and create awareness on the causes and dangers of VVF.
Keywords: obstetric fistula / quality of health care services / VVF / Nigeria / seeking / treatment

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