Supporting fistula survivors in Tanzania
Empowering women living with obstetric fistula through treatment, psycho-social support, and livelihoods opportunities.
Obstetric fistula is one of the most serious complications that can occur during childbirth. It is a pregnancy-related condition that develops during prolonged or obstructed labour, causing continuous leakage through an abnormal opening between a woman’s urinary tract and/or rectum and the vagina (WHO 2018).
It is estimated that fistula affects around two million of the world’s poorest young women, with between 50,000 and 100,000 new cases every year worldwide (WHO, 2018). Without access to urgent medical care, women face debilitating and life-threatening effects including poor mental health, incontinence, infections, and depression. Many women are excluded from family and community life, driving them further into poverty.
From 2019 to 2022, the ‘Empowering Women with Obstetric Fistula’ project aims to support 180 women in Mwanza and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania to access fistula surgery and reintegrate into their community.
Amref’s approach goes beyond fistula surgery to also incorporating activities that support the whole family, challenge community attitudes and break down the barriers preventing survivors from reintegrating.
To date, 88 women in Mwanza have been supported to access life-changing restorative surgery. Beyond surgery, women receive post-operative care, psychosocial support and livelihoods training so that they can rebuild their lives. Most of these women have now established their own businesses and already report feeling more accepted and supported by their families now that they are contributing financially.
Despite the impact of COVID-19, surgeries have been able to continue.
We are grateful to the National Lottery Community Fund (NLCF) and an anonymous trust supporter for making this work possible.
Images © Adrian Mgaya and Sam Vox.