Obstetric fistula changes the lives of the women who live with it. Grief, loneliness, confusion, isolation; a life of needless suffering that leaves women with emotional and physical scars.
What is obstetric fistula?
Obstetric fistula is an entirely preventable child-birth injury. It is caused by prolonged unrelieved obstructed labour that can result in a hole between the birth canal and the bladder or rectum. This hole will leave survivors leaking urine or faeces – and sometimes both.
Tragically, 93% of obstetric fistula survivors give birth to a stillborn baby, often after an agonising obstructed birth lasting days, sometimes one week.
How can I help achieve the SDGs?
Goal 3 – Health and Wellbeing
Over 60 years ago, Dr Catherine Hamlin realised that adequate access to maternal healthcare can spare a woman the pain and isolation of fistula – giving her the chance to finally have a live baby. By ensuring a woman’s maternal health and wellbeing, you’re ensuring her long term happiness and safety.
Goal 10 – Reduced Inequalities
Ethiopian women living in rural areas are at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing their human right to sexual and reproductive healthcare. With greater access to healthcare comes less instances of obstetric fistula.
You can play a part in training midwives from rural areas, allowing Hamlin to deploy them back to their communities – ensuring no woman is left behind. When a Hamlin Midwife arrives at a clinic, new cases of fistula drop to almost zero in nearby villages.
Goal 8 – Work and Economics
The overpowering smell of a fistula leaves women isolated from their communities, and work is rarely a possibility. Desta Mender, Hamlin’s rehabilitation and reintegration facility, equips women with skills training; enabling them to return to their villages and live independently with dignity and choice following their life-restoring treatment. This training is provided completely free of charge because of generous supporters and friends like you.
Goal 4 – Quality Education
Women at Desta Mender don’t just learn skills for business. Patients also attend literacy and numeracy classes, rebuilding their self-worth through educational empowerment and helping them regain independence.
Goal 5 – Gender Equality
The gendered disadvantage of obstetric fistula cannot be overlooked. Being isolated has vast repercussions on these women and their communities. The cycle of inequality continues as they are pushed further and further from society.
You can help reduce the inequality felt by these women by supporting treatment and rehabilitation that empowers and helps them overcome these obstacles.
Goal 1 – No Poverty
The ongoing cycle of disadvantage often felt by women with fistula can be stopped. Access to safe and ongoing maternal healthcare, like that provided by our Hamlin Midwives can help women make informed choices about their sexual health, giving her space for choice and the chance to have a healthy productive family.
Patients rehabilitation and reintegration empowers women with job skills they may not previously have had, helping reduce income gaps and providing sustainable lines of work for herself and her family.
Finally, by treating and healing women who have needlessly suffered for such a long period of time we are helping to break this cycle.
By helping us eradicate fistula you’re taking a huge step towards a fairer and more just world for all. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation by June 30. Click here to donate and help end fistula.