Obstetric fistula

For an Ethiopia free from fistula.

Our aim. To increase access to and awareness of maternal health in order to make childbirth safer and eradicate fistula in Ethiopia.

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The challenge today

In rural areas especially, there are simply not enough maternal health services for pregnant women. Only one-third of women receive adequate antenatal care and an even fewer 16% will have a health professional on hand when they give birth.

This is a leading reason why more than 3,000 women develop obstetric fistula each year – an internal childbirth tear from a prolonged and obstructed labour. Not only does fistula often result in stillbirth, it leaves a woman incontinent, shunned by her community and living alone in pain and fear.

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The solution you can be part of

Fistula is both preventable and curable – and you can be part of the solution today. Our on-the-ground partners have a three-part approach to treat, prevent and reintegrate cases of fistula across Ethiopia:

  • Identifying women living in hiding from fistula and arrange for free, quality treatment, including patient transport and complete pre- and post-operative care

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  • Training former fistula patients as ambassadors for safe motherhood to educate communities about maternal health and break down the stigma surrounding fistula

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  • Training new surgeons, nurses, midwives and doctors to ensure more women can access medical assistance when in labour

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  • Teaching former patients different employable skills so they have the skills to re-enter their community and be financially independent

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The impact you can have

“Now I am healed and so happy. I will educate my community about obstetric fistula.”

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When 32-year-old Aberash went into labour, there was no doctor nearby so she had to give birth at home. After three agonising days, she lost her baby and developed fistula. “I was hiding myself. I was not drinking enough water for fear of urine leakage. My neighbours isolated me. I became hopeless.”

Aberash lived in misery for 15 months. It was thanks to a travelling Safe Motherhood Ambassador that she not only learnt her condition could be cured and was assisted in getting life-changing fistula surgery, but had the chance to train as a Safe Motherhood Ambassador. 

Today Aberash is committed to finding and helping other women suffering from fistula. Through her, you're creating a ripple effect of change in the fight against fistula. 

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Make your difference

Donate today to help identify and rehabilitate a woman like Aberash living with fistula.

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Meet your project partners

> Healing Hands of Joy

Healing Hands of Joy (HHOJ) works to identify, refer and rehabilitate women living with obstetric fistula plus break down the social stigma behind fistula. HHOJ trains former fistula patients as Safe Motherhood Ambassadors who return to their communities to identify new cases of fistula and educate expectant mothers on safe delivery. They also educate on a wider community level, hosting community workshops, religious leader training, film screenings and male sensitivity training to increase community awareness and support for this socially-isolating condition.

   

> Women and Health Alliance

The Women and Health Alliance (WAHA) operate three hospitals or health centres across Ethiopia that provide free obstetric fistula surgeries for women in need. While fistula surgery is a key part of their work, WAHA also work to raise awareness in remote areas, provide transport to women and train more medical professionals in the treatment and post-operative care of fistula.

   

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