UN picks 90-year-old granny to be its fistula envoy

90-year-old Granny Jumwa Idd Kai from Mwarakaya village in Kilifi County is escorted by members of the County's Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organisation (MYWO) to board a Jambo jet flight from Malindi Airport to Nairobi. This is after Kai, who has been living with obstetric fistula for 50 years under neglect by the Society due to her condition, was nominated by UNFPA and MYWO to be an ambassador for fistula Obsteric. (PHOTO: MAARUFU MOHAMED/ STANDARD)

A UN agency has named a 90-year-old great-grandmother its fistula ambassador.

Jumwa Idd Kai, who struggled with fistula for 50 years before finally getting the right treatment this year, will now lead a countrywide campaign to sensitise Kenyan women about the condition.

Obstetric fistula is a condition where the patient develops a hole between the birth canal and either the rectum or bladder making her unable to control urine or human waste, or both.

Experts say the condition is usually caused by prolonged obstructed labour.

Thousands of Kenyan women living with the condition suffer in silence, unaware that it can be treated.

Kai, from Mwarakaya village in Kilifi, had lost hope of recovering from fistula and accepted a condition that set in after the birth of her only child 50 years ago.

She only managed to get help in May this year following the intervention of Maendeleo ya Wanawake Organisation (MYWO) which assisted her get the right treatment.

She is now on a new mission to rescue other women silently suffering from the condition after the United Nations Population Fund picked her to spearhead the fight.

MYWO Kilifi county chairperson Mrs Witness Tsuma and several other women escorted the granny to the Malindi airport amid pomp and dance as she flew to Nairobi to start her new assignment.

Due to cultural beliefs and poverty, Kai could not get proper treatment. She struggled so much to lead a normal life. Today, she says what is left from 50 years of pain are occasional twinges of pain in the waist and legs.

This, she says, is nothing compared to the agony of being shunned by friends and relatives because of her condition.