A look at water and female reproductive health
On world water day, we relook at the role played by the woman in the household and the risks she faces when an alternate source of water is unavailable
Lets take you to a community in the West Region of Cameroon, between the Health Districts of Bankim and Matta Barrage, an island community called ‘Petit Barrage’, where the only source of water available is from the lake that surrounds the island. The role of the African woman and girl as the home keeper where household chores and water fetching activities are left to the woman obliges her to go into the lake several times a day for laundry, washing of dishes and fetching water for storage.
‘Petit Barrage’ is of intrest to us here because this is a lake that hosts a worm called the schistosome heamatobuim which penetrates the body on fresh water contact contact and resides in several areas of the body like the liver and also the genital organs of both male and female causing a condition known as Urogenital Schistosomiasis and specially for the female, Female Genital Schistosomiasis (FGS).
With this fresh water contact schistosomiasis, commonly known as Bilharzia is a common occurrence in the ‘Petit Barrage’ community and unfortunately also the presence of FGS which affects the women and girls of such endemic areas. With the still high level of ignorance related to this condition (FGS) both by medical practitioners and inhabitants in the area, the condition goes unnoticed and untreated with a high consequence on the female population such as infertility, an increased risk of HIV and cervical cancer where the condition acts as a co-factor to these diseases.
Certainly, with this in mind we see water does change everything, where with access to alternate sources of water for house hold chores and drinking, women and girls are less exposed to such risks as female genital schistosomiasis
Construct a borehole, encourage sanitation and hygiene education! Water changes everything!
By Makia Masong