Working together to #EndFistula

Posted on: Monday, 23rd May, 2022
Jemilat, a woman with lived experience of fistula who is now raising awareness in her community – wearing a green t-shirt with ‘End Fistula Now! written on the back.

Fistula is a debilitating condition affecting women and girls, causing incontinence and leaving them prone to infection. It is usually the result of prolonged labour and lack of maternal healthcare in low- and middle-income countries.

This International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, we’re highlighting the work of our partners in Nigeria, and celebrating dedicated healthcare workers like fistula nurse Victoria, who are working to prevent fistula and provide treatment and support to women and girls.

Together, we can #EndFistula!

“The challenges faced by women with fistula is enormous. Talk about the shame, the stigmatisation, the rejection from family, from husbands, from the community, and all because a woman that has fistula is leaking urine, she will smell… So it affects them in all areas, the business, the livelihood, and makes them be dependent on families and friends.” Victoria David, Fistula Nurse and Project Officer SFHF Nigeria

Watch this film to hear more from Victoria:

 

More than 150,000 women and girls are living with fistula in Nigeria. Many are not aware that treatment is available for the condition and are facing stigma and discrimination, isolated and are excluded from their communities. The impact on their lives is devastating.

CBM Global is partnering with two Nigerian organisations, Survive Fistula Healthcare Foundation (SFHF) and ECWA Vesico Vaginal Fistula Centre (ECWA), to provide holistic care for women and girls in Nigeria – including women with fistula but also pregnant women and women with disabilities. This means not only providing medical treatment, such as fistula surgery, but also providing further support and rehabilitation and reintegrating women into their communities.

“We go to the community, we identify women with disabilities, we identify women with fistula, we identify pregnant women, and we refer them to hospital. Our team go into the community, house-to-house, to advocate for women to come out if they have fistula. We also conduct community outreaches, where we raise awareness so that women know they can go to hospital. We engaged the men too, to take their wives to hospital.” Ogunmayin Peters, Executive Director SFHF Nigeria

Staff from CBM Global’s partner Survive Fistula Healthcare Foundation, in Nigeria, gathered outside the hospital.

Community outreach teams visit rural communities in Nigeria to combat stigma and discrimination through educating people about fistula and the treatment available. After medical treatment, our partners support women and girls to access employment and set up businesses.

“We do mobilisation from the grassroots and we reintegrate them back into the community… giving grants to some of them who are willing to start a business. We ask them what they want to do, and we support them. I am happy that we are able to put a smile on the faces of these women and restore their dignity” – Victoria David, Fistula Nurse and Project Officer SFHF Nigeria

CBM’s partners are also training women with lived experience of fistula to be community champions themselves, to raise awareness about fistula – including the treatment available – and to tackle stigma and discrimination in their communities.

Meet some of the women raising awareness about fistula in their communities in our blog.

Women with lived experience of fistula who are now community champions, standing inside the Survive Fistula Healthcare Foundation hospital wing and wearing green t-shirts with ‘Ask me’ written on the front.

You may never have heard of obstetric fistula – it’s a condition rarely found where women have access to quality maternal healthcare services, with specialist doctors and nurses on hand. But this isn’t the case for thousands of women and girls in lower income countries. That’s why it’s so important we speak up about the impact of fistula – especially today on International Day to End Obstetric Fistula.

Will you help us raise awareness and end fistula for good? Share this article with your networks to show your support.

Images: 1st – Jemilat, a woman with lived experience of fistula who is now raising awareness in her community. 2nd – The staff at Survive Fistula Healthcare Foundation, including Ogunmayin Peters Executive Director (6th from the left). 3rd – Women with lived experience of fistula who are now community champions.



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