Incontinence in Zambia: Some Final Thoughts

by Claire Scott



I spent most of week four at the Lusaka-based University Teaching Hospital, collaborating with the fantastic medical professionals to identify potential informants for my study. I have been able to conduct a few interviews which are helping me to resolve the quandary of a lack of reported incontinence versus an expected prevalence within a culture that claims it would disclose such symptoms. One interviewee noted that there was no embarrassment to be associated with incontinence as it was the result of a separate illness. Another claimed that they had been embarrassed to discuss the stress urinary incontinence suffered initially due to a cough, but once it was the result of paralysis (the illness progressed) there was no longer a need to be embarrassed. It may therefore be that in Zambia incontinence is freely discussed without embarrassment when associated with illness, but as a standalone condition there may be such a stigma attached to it that incontinence is not disclosed outside of the family.

Unfortunately I have only a few more days in Zambia to explore how incontinence sufferers and carers cope, but I hope to hold more interviews before I return to the UK for the 40th WEDC Conference held at Loughborough University. I will be presenting my interim findings at a side event hosted by the IMPRESS Network as part of a series of short talks on ‘Understanding Incontinence Needs in Low and Middle Income Countries’. I am very much looking forward to sharing thoughts and ideas, and hopefully I will meet some blog readers there too!

But before I go I have one final Zambian adventure to share with you – a trip to Kariba Dam located along the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. It dams the Zambezi River to form Lake Kariba, which is the world’s largest man-made reservoir. Kariba Dam is a hydroelectric dam supplying power to both Zambia and Zimbabwe, and at 128 metres tall and 579 metres wide it is an impressive sight! Having been in operation since 1959 the Dam is in need of repair and the Kariba Dam Rehabilitation Project, part-funded by the World Bank, is underway.

See you at WEDC!