Lack of access

A million women in Africa and Asia suffer incontinence from fistula

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(Photo by Kate Geraghty/Sydney Morning Herald/Fairfax Media via Getty Images)

Health advocates such as Kate Grant, CEO of The Fistula Foundation, have been providing training to surgeons in Africa and Asia so that women do not have to live with the debilitating but treatable condition of an obstetric fistula. The obstetric fistula is a hole between the vagina and rectum or bladder caused by complications during a prolonged birth. It’s estimated to cause incontinence for a million women in Africa and Asia, despite the condition having been virtually eliminated in developed countries.

Fewer than 20,000 of the million women afflicted with fistula receive treatment in Africa and Asia, according to the London School of Tropical Medicine. As a result, these women are often at risk of being abandoned by their husbands and ostracized by their communities. Sixty-nine percent of women surveyed living with fistula in Ethiopia were divorced, and one-fifth of respondents were not allowed to eat with their families. Of the women surveyed who described themselves as depressed, half said they were suicidal.

Grant’s Action on Fistula initiative was able to treat more than 1,200 women with fistula in two years, a success that beat even their three-year target. Grant’s hope is to replicate that success throughout Africa and Asia by providing training to surgeons, so they can help to end fistula’s devastating impact on women’s lives.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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Women with fistulas often stigmatized and left to suffer

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