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Direct Relief often contracts with freelance photographers who usually, but not always, allow their work to be published by Direct Relief’s media partners. Contact Direct Relief for permission to use images in which Direct Relief is not credited in the caption by clicking here.

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For any additional questions about republishing Direct Relief content, please email the team here.

Women in Malawi Receive Life-Restoring Fistula Treatment


Obstetric Fistula

Aided by supplies from Direct Relief, 64 women received life-restoring obstetric fistula treatment at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi, during the Fistula Repair Camp this May organized by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)-Malawi.

Obstetric fistula is a devastating childbirth injury that happens when women lack access to skilled birth attendants and emergency obstetric care. The condition is largely treatable with a surgical procedure.

Direct Relief supported the camp by air-freighting a shipment of essential medicines and medical and surgical supplies in response to an urgent request from UNFPA. The shipment arrived just in time to be put to use during the camp.

According to the report submitted by the UNFPA Malawi office, the Direct Relief supplies were particularly crucial because of a nationwide shortage of Foley catheters, one of the tools most essential for obstetric fistula repair.

Additionally, the donated supplies from Direct Relief allowed the hospital to spend its limited resources on procuring food for the patients, instead of spending the money to purchase medicines and supplies.

As indicated in the report by Dr. Ennet Chipungu, Medical Director of UNFPA Malawi, this was very helpful since it is critical that the patients have food, but it is often difficult to have a sufficient stock when the fistula patients stay a long time in the hospital and come from very far, rural areas.

The report also noted that the incontinence pads provided were a big relief and comfort to the patients, who remarked being very happy they had this extra support during their recovery.

Women who live with obstetric fistula often live lives of isolation and suffering. Fistula repair gives them an opportunity to regain their sense of dignity and self-respect, and allows them to return to their communities as healthy and hopeful individuals.

UNFPA Malawi is looking forward to the next camp scheduled for this fall and has requested Direct Relief’s assistance in providing medicines and supplies. Dr. Chipungu commented, “We just want to appreciate the speed in which you were able to send the supplies to us after we signed our partnership agreement.  We are very grateful.”

Direct Relief looks forward to partnering again with UNFPA Malawi and Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital to ensure women in need have access to timely fistula treatment.

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