Background: Although the magnitude of obstetric fistulae (OF) is reported to have decreased in industrialized countries, it is still a major problem in developing countries. While the main cause of OF is prolonged obstructed labour without prompt medical attention, misconceptions about OF exist.
Objective: To determine awareness and perceived causes of OF in rural areas of southern Tanzania.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted among women of reproductive age, men, health personnel, birth attendants, community leaders and OF cases using qualitative and quantitative approaches.
Results: More than 60% of interviewees reported to be aware of OF with a connotation of urine in the names. Perceived causes of OF include sorcery, prolonged labour, delivering by operation where doctors/nurses make mistakes perforate the urinary bladder, physique of the expecting mother, poor skills of doctors/nurses to conduct caesarean section, young or old age of an expecting mother and having sex before recovering from the operation.
Conclusion: Although OF is not reported to exist, most of the interviewees were aware of them. However, were few respondents are able to mention the main cause of OF. Maternal health education is important as a strategy to minimize the spread of misconceptions about causes of OF.
Keywords: Obstetric fistulae; Tanzania.