Celebrate Solutions: Providing Life-Changing Surgeries for Fistula Patients

By: Isabel Garcia, Catapult

Obstetric fistula—a hole in the birth canal resulting from prolonged or obstructed childbirth—is a preventable condition that leaves up to 100,000 girls and women each year, with life-long incontinence. As a result of the stigma associated with the condition, women living with fistula are often isolated, neglected or abandoned by family and community, and left to rely on the charity and mercy of others. The Tamale Fistula Centre in northern Ghana, which is supported by UNFPA, provides life-changing surgeries for girls and women facing this condition. Through Catapult, they raised the funds needed to provide 136 gynecological surgeries in 2013, 81 of which were fistula repair surgeries.

This has had a tremendous impact. In 2013, there were an estimated 634,850 women of reproductive age from the Northern Region of Ghana, where the Tamale Fistula Centre is located. The Centre is the only fistula repair facility in the region.

Thanks to funds raised, the Tamale Fistula Centre bought and installed a hot air autoclave (for equipment sterilization) and an anesthetic machine. Having the hot air autoclave at the Tamale Fistula Center allows the surgeons to sterilize their surgical instruments on site rather than having to bring them to the closest hospital. This has decreased the amount of time needed between surgeries and increased the number of repairs they are able to carry out at the Centre.

Next, the Tamale Fistula Centre plans to develop a resource mobilization strategy to raise funds to expand the surgical theater and bed capacity of the centre. Their goal is to expand from a 10 bed to 30 bed ward facility.

To learn more about the project and about Catapult, please click here.

Photo via Tamale Fistula Centre

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