You are here

 

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 25 April 2022 – Thirty-two survivors of obstetric fistula who successfully underwent surgery at the Aberdeen Women’s Centre [AWC] with funding support from the Government of Iceland through UNFPA were on Friday, 22 April reunited with their families. 

 

In a brief ‘gladi gladi’ discharge ceremony of the first set of nineteen women at the Centre in Freetown, Deputy Representative of UNFPA, Sibeso Mululuma, encouraged the survivors to serve as ambassadors by talking to those women with similar conditions to seek help. “We are happy to note that women are benefiting from the work we do. As you go back to your homes and communities, be the ambassadors who will help in bringing other women out. We want as many women who have the same condition to benefit from the same services you have benefited from,” she emphasised. 

 

Dr. Liz Goodall, Clinical Director and Fistula Specialist at AWC, expressed delight that the women were going home free of fistula. “You all know what it means to live with fistula. I encourage you all to go to your communities and tell others where they should go for help,” she reiterated.

 

Sarah Bangura, a 22-year-old survivor, said, “I am now a fine person. I am not leaking anymore. I can now urinate consciously. I lost my dignity as a woman because I was urinating unconsciously. I could not mingle with other people. It was a shameful ordeal. Having gone through the surgery, I am happy that I now can sit among people without thinking of having urine all over me. I am thankful to the donors, including UNFPA and the Government of Iceland. The nurses at Aberdeen Women are also appreciated for their professionalism.”

 

Obstetric fistula, a hole that develops in the birth canal caused by prolonged, obstructed labour, is preventable and, in most cases, can be repaired surgically. With funding from the Government of Iceland, UNFPA supports the Government of Sierra Leone in undertaking an integrated results-based approach in the campaign to eliminate fistula.

 

UNFPA also works with Aberdeen Women’s Centre and Haikal Foundation as partners in conducting screening for women with suspected obstetric fistula and surgery to repair their fistula and restore their dignity. In addition, psychosocial support and social reintegration services are provided to fistula survivors after surgery, including income-generating activities such as tailoring, gardening, weaving and tie-dye techniques. 

 

In 2021, with funding from the Government of Iceland, and additional funding from the Maternal Health Thematic Fund, 353 women were screened for obstetric fistula. 184 had fistula repair surgery with a 93 per cent success rate. Since 2011, Aberdeen Women’s Centre, with UNFPA funding, has performed 1,731 successful fistula surgeries. 

 

For more information, contact:

John Baimba Sesay

Web and Media Analyst

Email: jsesay@unfpa.org 

Tel: +232 30953193