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Study shows UI burden for Nigerian women

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By Abraham Adekunle

Company makes groundbreaking research on the disease both in Nigeria and Kenya.

Axena Health Inc., in collaboration with ThinkPlace, has conducted an extensive study shedding light on the profound burden of urinary incontinence (UI) among women in Kenya and Nigeria. This groundbreaking research underscores the urgent need for heightened awareness, comprehensive education, and improved access to evidence-based treatment options. The study, encompassing insights from 175 women and healthcare providers across these regions, reveals the staggering impact of UI on women’s health and overall well-being, with a notable barrier being the pervasive lack of awareness hindering women from seeking appropriate treatment. The findings underscore a resounding call from both women and clinicians for enhanced educational initiatives and expanded treatment options.

Specifically, pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT) emerged as a highly effective first-line treatment modality, highlighting the importance of integrating education about pelvic floor disorders into healthcare curricula. Clinicians emphasized the imperative of equipping healthcare workers with the knowledge and skills necessary to accurately assess and manage UI cases, emphasizing the critical need for further research to better understand the prevalence and nuances of UI within the sub-Saharan African context. Oliver Muchiri, Practice Lead at ThinkPlace Kenya, emphasized the transformative potential of education and care interventions in Kenya and Nigeria, stressing the need for concerted global efforts to address the voices of affected women and the pressing need for accessible, evidence-based treatment options.

Impact of this disease on women in Kenya and Nigeria.

UI, as the most prevalent pelvic floor disorder affecting a significant portion of women worldwide, imposes multifaceted burdens on affected individuals, encompassing psychosocial, economic, and physical dimensions. The pervasive lack of awareness and associated stigma exacerbate the challenges faced by women, with far-reaching implications for their societal and familial roles. Jessica McKinney, VP of Clinical Affairs at Axena Health, underscored the imperative of prioritizing education, awareness-building, and comprehensive care interventions to address the pervasive lack of support for women navigating the impact of UI without adequate treatment. Laura Keyser, Director of Clinical Strategy at Axena Health, echoed McKinney’s sentiments, emphasizing the pivotal role of structured pelvic floor muscle training and educational initiatives in elevating the discourse surrounding pelvic floor disorders in low and middle income countries.

Eileen Maus, CEO of Axena Health, issued a compelling call to action for stakeholders in global women’s health, urging concerted efforts to prioritize the mitigation of UI’s burden, particularly in regions characterized by resource constraints. Maus stressed the importance of collaborative endeavours aimed at delivering education and care interventions to vulnerable populations affected by UI. In light of these findings, there is an urgent imperative to address the profound burden of UI on women in Kenya, Nigeria, and beyond, with a comprehensive focus on education, raising awareness, and the expansion of accessible treatment options. Axena Health’s Leva® Pelvic Health System stands as a beacon of hope, offering a non-invasive, medication-free treatment solution for UI and chronic fecal incontinence, thereby empowering women to reclaim their quality of life.

Factors contributing to UI in Kenya and Nigeria.

Urinary incontinence (UI) poses a significant health challenge for women in Kenya and Nigeria, impacting their physical, emotional, and social well-being. UI refers to the involuntary leakage of urine, which can range from mild to severe and occur during various activities such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, or exercising. While UI affects women worldwide, it presents unique challenges in low and middle income countries like Kenya and Nigeria, where access to healthcare resources and awareness about pelvic floor disorders are limited. The prevalence of UI among women in Kenya and Nigeria remains underreported due to cultural taboos, stigma, and a lack of healthcare infrastructure. Many women suffer in silence, unaware of available treatment options or unable to access them due to financial constraints or social barriers. As a result, UI can have devastating consequences on a women’s quality of life, leading to social isolation, depression, and decreased productivity.

Several factors contribute to the high prevalence of UI among women in Kenya and Nigeria. One of them is pregnancy and childbirth. The physiological changes associated with pregnancy and childbirth, such as hormonal fluctuations and pelvic floor muscle weakness, increase the risk of developing UI. Vaginal delivery, particularly prolonged labor or instrumental delivery, can further weaken the pelvic floor muscles and damage the nerves responsible for bladder control. Another is cultural beliefs and practices. Cultural taboos surrounding women’s health issues and reproductive health can deter women from seeking medical help for UI. In some communities, this is perceived as a normal part of aging or motherhood, leading to a lack of awareness about available treatment options.

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Then, there is limited access to healthcare. Inadequate access to healthcare facilities, trained healthcare providers, and diagnostic tools exacerbates the problem of underdiagnosis and undertreatment of UI. Women living in rural or remote areas face additional barriers to accessing healthcare services, including transportation costs and lack of awareness about available resources. Finally, socioeconomic disparities, including poverty, unemployment, and lack of education, contribute to the burden of UI among women in Kenya and Nigeria. Women from low-income households may prioritize basic needs over seeking treatment for UI, while those with higher socioeconomic status may face social stigma or embarrassment associated with the condition.

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