News / Africa

U.S. Foundation Supports Fistula Treatment in Africa

Women inside a clinic in UgandaWomen inside a clinic in Uganda
x
Women inside a clinic in Uganda
Women inside a clinic in Uganda

Multimedia

Audio
Kim Lewis
For hundreds of thousands of women in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, obstructed childbirth leads to a life of pain and, in many cases, public shame and isolation. 

“Obstetric Fistula is a childbirth injury,” says Kate Grant, the chief executive officer of the Fistula Foundation in San Jose, California. “It happens to women who stay in obstructed labor, sometimes for as long as five or seven days. 

“The injury actually leaves a woman incontinent,” says Grant. “That’s the bad news.”

For the half-million women now suffering obstetric fistula, surgery can address the physical damage, so the non-profit foundation funds hospitals and doctors in Africa that treat fistula. The foundation supports medical services for obstetric fistula in 19 countries in Africa and South Asia and has funded an estimated 7,000 procedures in the past six years.

“Many times these hospitals not only provide the surgery, but they also do outreach campaigns to try to locate the women to let them know that the injury certainly isn’t their fault, that they’re not cursed, that the injury can be treated, often times with medical care,” says Grant.

Grant praises the hospitals, the doctors and medical staffs and especially the women who suffer the trauma of those births. She calls them all heroes. She says bringing a baby into the world under difficult circumstances can turn what was to be the happiest day of their lives into the tragic loss of a baby and a life-long injury such as fistula.

“By the time they get to a hospital, they’ve gone through so much,” Grant noted.    
Grant says in most cases surgery can be performed and the patients return to normal health.

It takes more than a surgeon

“Many times these hospitals not only provide the surgery, but they also do outreach campaigns to try to locate the women to let them know that the injury certainly isn’t their fault. That they’re not cursed. That the injury can be treated, often times with medical care,” says Grant.

The fistula is a hole between the vagina and rectum or bladder that is caused by prolonged obstructed labor, leaving a woman incontinent; unable to control the flow of her urine or her feces. It most commonly occurs among women in undeveloped countries who give birth without any access to medical help.

“In effect, if she lives in a more rural area, she doesn’t have access to the kind of products we have in the U.S., or a developed country - incontinence pads, and things that would allow someone to lead a normal life,” says Grant.

Because of the leakage and odor, a woman knows something is wrong, but doesn’t know what exactly it is or what to do about it.

“So she knows she has a problem.  Sometimes she won’t know that she actually has fistula.  She might not be aware of exactly what the injury is, but she will definitely know the symptom which is incontinence,” says Grant.

Without medical intervention, the woman is often abandoned by her husband and banned from the village because of the foul smell that emanates from the woman due to fistula. 

“It’s not always the case,” says Grant. “There are some saintly husbands who stay with their wives.”

You May Like

Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Feasts centering on turkeys with an array of traditional sides and desserts are part of the holiday's traditions, which falls on the fourth Thursday in November More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Paradei
X
Anush Avetisyan
November 26, 2014 10:57 PM
Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid