Finally, the New York Times has turned its spotlight on the prevalence of obstetric fistulae in Tanzania and other developing countries. Far too few people realize that poor medical care and birthing practices have left 2 million women and girls wounded and incontinent around the world — a condition that not only destroys their quality of life, but ostracizes them from their communities. The vast majority of them are in sub-Saharan Africa.
The article puts a human face on the issue, telling the story of several young girls seeking help for their injuries after losing their babies during obstructed labor, or being abandoned by their families. While several groups have risen to the challenge — theAfrican Medical and Research Foundation prime among them — there are still countless limitations and complications standing in the way of widespread quality care for these women. Resources, personnel and facilities are scarce. And even when fistulae are successfully repaired, post-surgical care is often insufficient, resulting in infection, nerve damage and recurrence.
Still, teams of surgeons continue to work in Tanzania and elsewhere undeterred, simply wishing there were more doctors willing to pitch in. To learn more about the African Medical and Research Foundation’s effort to help fistula patients, please visit theproject’s web site.
And here are a few other groups working to alleviate the problem:
- The Fistula Foundation
- End Fistula (backed by the United Nations Population Fund)
- International Organization for Women and Development
- Campaign to End Fistula
- USAID: Obstetric Fistula Strategy
- The Worldwide Fistula Fund
- AMDD: Fistula Repair Projects (through Columbia University)