By: Alyssa Tartaglione, Catapult
EngenderHealth, a leading global women’s health organization, has a proven track record working to repair fistula, having supported the provision of more than 25,000 surgeries in the last decade. But their work goes far beyond just providing this vital surgery.
Fistula is a hole that develops between the birth canal and one or more of a woman's internal organs. In the developing world, it is estimated to affect more than 2 million girls and women. The consequences of fistula without surgical repair are devastating. A woman may be ostracized and isolated from her community because of the chronic incontinence that results from this condition. In up to 90% of cases, the fistula can be surgically repaired. But for some women, fistula can cause a permanent disability. EngenderHealth is working with these women in Guinea to ensure that their futures are productive.
This project has already successfully trained 303 women in income-generating activities and 217 women in communication skills in addition to educating 47,500 people about fistula causes and prevention. By engaging and involving the community in fistula prevention and social reintegration, the work seeks to change social norms and improve access to maternal health care. EngenderHealth’s continued work will reach more women living with fistula in Guinea to provide them with social and moral support, economic opportunities to create livelihoods and advocacy skills to educate their communities about fistula. The women trained in advocacy will be given the skills to raise decision makers’ awareness about the challenges of living with fistula.
EngenderHealth has been working in Guinea since 1990 to improve the quality of sexual and reproductive health care for women. The current work in the country joins together with the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) program Fistula Care to focus on the prevention and treatment of obstetric fistula.
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Photo via EngenderHealth