Women throughout the centuries have struggled in childbirth. Many of our ancestors faced harrowing deliveries with life-threatening circumstances. Most certainly, some of these women experienced obstetric fistula.
Almost unheard of in industrialized countries now, it is caused when a woman experiences prolonged labor and is unable to receive a needed c-section. Her infant’s head presses on the birth canal for an extended time (often several days), damaging the tissues and leading to a hole between the birth canal and the bladder or rectum. This hole causes permanent incontinence unless corrected with surgery. In a double tragedy, 90 percent of the babies born to these women are still-born. The agony continues with husbands and extended family typically rejecting her, often banishing her from the community, or leaving her in a hut on the outskirts of the village to subsist as best she can.
The Woman and Health Alliance International (WAHA) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) collaborated with photographer Livia Saavedra to travel to Gondor University Hospital in Northern Ethiopia. There, Saavedra followed six women battling obstetric fistula and their journeys towards healing. As you watch this short documentary in four parts, you will meet Bossena, Birtukan, Agegneush, Dasash, Etagegegnah and Kaila. Each came from remote rural areas. Each faced a challenging path to healing.
The four short videos: Maternity, A Long Road, Surgery, and Dignity show us a journey against monumental cultural, economic and physical barriers. Obstetric fistula affects the poorest, those with the least access to care and support. It is estimated between 2-3 million women struggle with this condition, with 50-60,000 new cases each year. “It is a medical and social tragedy that could be totally prevented and in most cases, successfully treated,” says the WAHA. Watch these women reclaim their lives.
Watch the video here!
The Take Action Challenge: Go to http://www.endfistula.org/ to learn more. In 2003, UNFPA and its partners launched a global Campaign to End Fistula with the goal of making obstetric fistula as rare in developing countries as it is in the industrialized world. The campaign is present in 50 countries and works on prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of affected women and girls. Despite progress, the needs remain great. Ending fistula worldwide will demand political will, additional resources, and strengthened collaboration. You can follow @wahaint, @unfpa and @endfistula on twitter. Or like WAHA International, UNFPA and End Fistula on Facebook.
Take the ChallengeEvery 90 seconds a woman needlessly loses her life in pregnancy or childbirth. But 80% of these are preventable. Take action now:
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