Essential Fistula Surgery Equipment Arrives in Malawi

Direct Relief recently delivered a second shipment of medical supplies to the Bwaila Fistula Center in Lilongwe, Malawi, a facility committed to treating women with obstetric fistula.

Obstetric fistula is a hole in the birth canal that is caused by prolonged and obstructed labor. If untreated, 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.

The newly-renovated Bwaila Fistula Center is on target to provide life-restoring obstetric fistula repair surgery for 330 women this year. This unit is able to handle all types of cases, including difficult procedures, to assist women who have very complex injuries.

“These are women who have undergone one or more surgeries and their injuries are so severe that the only option is a larger surgery called a urinary diversion,” wrote lead surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Wilkinson in a thank you message to Direct Relief. “We are busy using all the great stuff you sent.”

The Bwaila Fistula Center is one of four Centers of Excellence for Obstetric Fistula Surgery established by the Freedom from Fistula Foundation (FfFF). It is located at the Bwaila Maternity Hospital, a large facility that oversees more than 15,000 deliveries per year.

Direct Relief sent its first shipment of supplies to the Bwaila Fistula Center in May. “We are thrilled to receive our first shipment of supplies from Direct Relief,” said Dr. Wilkinson upon receiving the sutures, catheters, urine bags, syringes, spinal needles, and other equipment included in the shipment.

An associate professor with the University of North Carolina Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr. Wilkinson joined the team in September 2011 and has played a major role in the renovation and opening of the expanded unit.

Direct Relief plans to continue this partnership with the Bwaila Fistula Center to remain a part of the work they are doing in the lives of hundreds of Malawian women.

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