Open Access Research article

Community awareness about risk factors, presentation and prevention and obstetric fistula in Nabitovu village, Iganga district, Uganda

Nassar Kasamba1, Dan K Kaye2* and Scovia N Mbalinda1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Nursing, School of Health Sciences, College of Health Sciences, Makerere University, P.O. Box 7072, Kampala, Uganda

2 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences, Makerere University, P.O. Box 7072, Kampala, Uganda

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BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2013, 13:229  doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-229

Published: 10 December 2013



Obstetric fistula is a worldwide problem that is devastating for women in developing countries. The cardinal cause of obstetric fistula is prolonged obstructed labour and delay in seeking emergency obstetric care. Awareness about obstetric fistula is still low in developing countries. The objective was to assess the awareness about risk factors of obstetric fistulae in rural communities of Nabitovu village, Iganga district, Eastern Uganda.


A qualitative study using focus group discussion for males and females aged 18-49 years, to explore and gain deeper understanding of their awareness of existence, causes, clinical presentation and preventive measures for obstetric fistula. Data was analyzed by thematic analysis.


The majority of the women and a few men were aware about obstetric fistula, though many had misconceptions regarding its causes, clinical presentation and prevention. Some wrongly attributed fistula to misuse of family planning, having sex during the menstruation period, curses by relatives, sexually transmitted infections, rape and gender-based violence. However, others attributed the fistula to delays to access medical care, induced abortions, conception at an early age, utilization of traditional birth attendants at delivery, and some complications that could occur during surgical operations for difficult deliveries.


Most of the community members interviewed were aware of the risk factors of obstetric fistula. Some respondents, predominantly men, had misconceptions/myths about risk factors of obstetric fistula as being caused by having sex during menstrual periods, poor usage of family planning, being a curse.