Fistula Care Center brings hope to Women in rural Guinea

Tuesday, July 23, 2019
Binta Ann, Gender and Youth Advisor at USAID Guinea, listens to Fatoumata’s story while Madame Fatoumata Sow, head of the fistula care center in Labé looks on.
Ousmane Condé, USAID Guinea

April 2019- Labé, Lower Guinea. In 2018, Fatoumata Sow, from Labé Region, suffered obstetric fistula (OF) after withstanding days of obstructed labor.  Sadly, her baby did not survive.  When she returned to her village, Fatoumata was rejected and shunned because of the foul odor caused by leaking urine and feces. . She was not at all aware of what is an obstetric fistula, nor did the causes and so seeks any type of treatment available to solve her problem. The distance away from appropriate health facilities and poverty complicated this task, rendering it all but impossible. This is an unfortunate portrait of many OF sufferers - uneducated, without any has no immediate family member to rely on.

Fortunately for Fatoumata and many other OF sufferers in the region, the Health Service Delivery (HSD) project funded by USAID has installed a fistula care center at the Regional Hospital in Labé. With trained health workers and a certified fistula repair surgeon. Beyond that, the project supports community outreach teams to spread messages about free OF repair services that are now available at the regional hospital. The word is also spreading about the center, because former OF sufferers are beginning to open up and discuss their condition and related challenges.

Madame Fatoumata Sow, head of the fistula care center said “when she first came to the center, Fatoumata was like a dead person walking, she had lost hope. Now everything has changed. She is happy again.”

After Fatoumata learned that other fistula sufferers had been treated successfully in Labé, she sought out and received care from the center. Another key part of the program supported by HSD, after her fistula repair, she has been adopted by a local family for social reintegration purposes and she is now learning a trade. Fatoumata is full of life and joy again. Madame Fatoumata Sow, head of the fistula care center said “when she first came to the center, Fatoumata was like a dead person walking, she had lost hope. Now everything has changed. She is happy again.”

Challenges still remain, despite having a well-trained surgeon and a successful rate of fistula repair and follow-up care, the fistula care center lacks equipment and infrastructure to raise the standards of care. Spare storerooms at the hospital serve as the operating room, outpatient clinic, and hostel facilities for approximately 20 women. “I had to bring in some of the hospital beds to make up for the lack of beds in the center” says Dr. Attaoulaye Sall, Director of the Regional Hospital of Labé.

According to Dr. Mamadou Houdy Bah, Regional Health Director of Labé, pregnancy complications and childbirth are among the leading causes of death and disability for many women in Middle Guinea. This is often as a result of girls getting married at a very early age.

Since the HSD project started in 2016, more than 600 women throughout the Middle Guinea region and border villages in neighboring Guinea Bissau have received restorative surgery in this hospital.

The project, which runs until 2020, has also set up centers for obstetric fistula treatment and reintegration services at the regional hospitals in Boke, Kindia, Faranah, at the prefectural hospital of Kissidougou, and at the Socio-Medical Center Jean Paul II in Conakry.

Last updated: December 20, 2019

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