Grant Helps Women in Somalia Access Fistula Repair and Regain Dignity

Until recently, women in Somalia suffering from obstetric fistula – a devastating childbirth injury– had no where to turn for help within their own country.

In response to the urgent need, Direct Relief partnered with Women and Health Alliance International (WAHA), providing the organization a $50,000 grant in November that helped Banadir Hospital – the largest maternal and child health care referral hospital in Somalia – open a fully-functioning 60-bed fistula ward that adheres to international norms of quality, dramatically increasing the capacity for treatment.

Located in the heart of the capital city, Mogadishu, the services now available for women with obstetric fistula in Somalia are momentous for a country that has been plagued by civil war, drought and famine and is now considered one of the most dangerous places to give birth in the world.

Just three months after the ward opened in January, 80 women had already been admitted and 57 fistula repair surgeries had been performed. Using funds from this grant from Direct Relief, WAHA has also trained nine Somali fistula care staff, including two OB/GYNs, two anesthetist technicians, three nurses, and two counselors to help the women reintegrate after their surgeries have been completed.

Obstetric fistula is caused by prolonged and obstructed labor and creates a hole in the birth canal that, if left untreated, can cause chronic incontinence and leakage of body fluids.

As a result of the prolonged labor, most often the baby is stillborn and the hole that is created in the birth canal creates a severely debilitating and tragically ostracizing condition for each woman with the condition.

Direct Relief is committed to supporting women around the world who are affected by this devastating condition and is extremely grateful for partners like WAHA who are furthering these efforts.

Roughly two million women in the developing world women suffer with this devastating – but largely treatable – problem and an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 cases develop each year, far surpassing the global capacity for treatment. The condition primarily affects impoverished women that don’t have access to quality maternity care services, including a skilled provider at birth and access to emergency care.

Read more about Direct Relief’s program to restore health and hope to women living with obstetric fistula around the world.

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