106 Women Receive Life-Restoring Fistula Treatment in Western Uganda

More than 100 women living with obstetric fistula – a devastating childbirth injury –  received life-restoring treatment at a two-week long fistula repair camp recently held at Hoima Regional Referral Hospital, one of Direct Relief’s partners in western Uganda.

Five fistula surgeons from across the country assisted with 106 repairs over the course of the camp, which was coordinated by EngenderHealth. This far surpassed the initial target of 80 women.

Obstetric fistula is a hole in the birth canal caused by prolonged and obstructed labor. Without treatment, a woman with obstetric fistula will experience constant and uncontrollable leakage of urine and/or feces.  In addition to physical injuries, many women with fistula suffer humiliation, isolation, and stigma as a result of the smell and constant leakage. After undergoing repair, these 106 women are now able to return to a healthier, more hopeful life.

Direct Relief provided essential medicines for the camp,  including a range of antibiotics, pain medications, and anesthesia to support the effort. These basic medications are critical to fistula repair surgery and post-operative care. Without them these important services would not have been possible.

In a follow up email, Dr. Rose Mukisa Bisoborwa, the country project manager for EngenderHealth in Uganda, expressed her excitement for the women as well as her gratitude for all who were a part of the camp’s mission.

“I wish to take this opportunity to thank all that have supported this camp and consequently contributed to making a difference in the lives of these 106 women. We are so indebted to Direct Relief,” she wrote.

Dr. Bisoborwa said a closing ceremony was attended by national and local government officials, religious leaders, hospital administration and staff, and the women and their families who had benefited from the repair.

During the closing ceremony, two women that received treatment provided heartfelt testimony about what it meant to live with the devastating condition for so many years, and how they felt hopeful and happy after now having finally received treatment.

The event was well covered by a number of media outlets including the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) and Wavah Broadcasting Services (WBS). The footage of the closing ceremony was aired as part of an effort to promote awareness and advocacy for fistula services.

2 Comments
  1. Just a suggestion: It’s unfortunate that you don’t explain what IS obstetric fistula. When I saw the note on Face Book I thought perhaps it referred to the horror of clitorectomy, but no. Please educate us all, tell us what it is, how it affects these women and how long can it last? Sounds like good work. Thank you.

    • Thank you for the suggestion, Amanda. We’re so happy to hear that you want to know more. To answer your questions: Obstetric fistula is a hole in the birth canal that forms during prolonged labor. The baby is usually lost in birth and the condition causes these women to suffer incontinence. It is a highly stigmatizing condition due to the smell. Obstetric fistula does not go away unless repaired through surgery. For more information, you can visit our obstetric fistula page: http://www.directrelief.org/focus/maternal-and-child-health/obstetric-fistula/

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