Shocking revelation as women in Tana River County recount details of undergoing painful hot rod treatment to counter UTI and infertility.

Two women have revealed how a burning metal rod is used for treatment of urinary tract infection (UTI) and infertility. The rod is burnt red hot and then inserted in the vagina to burn the affected area for healing. Abshiro Ahmed, one of the women, has since been left sick and unable to control her urine discharge, a condition doctors fear might be fistula as a result of the treatment.

Abshiro first encountered the treatment when she was forced by her mother to abandon the medication from the hospital after being diagnosed with UTI .

“She told me to put the medicine away and promised to get a traditional healer to cure me,” Ms Ahmed recounts.

Worsened condition

After the first treatment left her bedridden and at a much worse state, she would still have to endure another dose of the treatment in the promise that she would get better and regain her weight. After the second round,her condition worsened but her adamant mother would still convince her to face the rod one more time to open up her womb since she had not conceived again after her first child. Despite her worsening health and the failure to conceive even after the treatment, her family still insists on another shot. She is unwilling to bear the pain and even suggests the possibility of her going to  hospital, something her culture is against.

Another victim of the dreadful hot rod treatment is 24-year-old Fatuma Abdulahi whose first round of pain began when she developed a UTI at the age of nine. Her mother Halima Genya,who is a traditional healer, administered the treatment. To also help her conceive, she was burnt the second time.

Burning issue

Halima, who has been a traditional healer for 36 years, says that for girls who have faced the knife and have been sewn up they use a piece of plastic to open up the vagina before inserting the hot rod. For married women who are trying to conceive they use a much thicker rod and a red hot table spoon for those with children.

“After burning, the wound takes two weeks to heal and if the infection is still present , we burn again.That is our tradition,” says Ms Genya who charges 2000 shillings for girls and 5000 for women.

Dayaa Women Group , a community based organisation in the county focusing on the eradication of Female Genital Mutilation has been forced to extend its fight to end the hot rod treatment practice. Sadia Hussein the group coordinator admits that the fight has not been easy.

“During our forums, women tell us about being burnt more than three times without results. We advise them to go to hospital, but they are reluctant. They hold on to the hope that burning is the best way to treat infections and infertility. They believe that UTI is a growth that affects fertility,” says Ms Hussein.