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Fistula Repair Program Restores Hope and Health

AmeriCares - Mon, 26 Sep 2011 21:00 GMT
Author: AmeriCares
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Reticia Rughamira, just 21, lost her baby in childbirth. And this was only the beginning. She was soon abandoned by her husband, and faced the possibility of rejection from her entire community. Reticia's story is a familiar one for many women in Tanzania who lack access to emergency obstetric care. During her prolonged, obstructed labor, enough soft tissue in her birth canal was destroyed to cause obstetric fistula - a devastating condition that affects more than 2 million women in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Like most women with fistula, Reticia was rendered incontinent as a result of her condition —a condition almost unknown today in the United States. But in Tanzania, 2,500-3,000 new cases of obstetric fistula occur each year. Fortunately, Reticia's story took a hopeful turn when she found help through the AmeriCares Obstetric Fistula Repair program - an initiative at Bugando Medical Centre in Tanzania that has mended the bodies and lives of more than 2,000 women in need. Many women throughout Africa, unaware that their debilitating condition can be treated, live as outcasts, rejected by their families and communities. But for women like Reticia, referral to the fistula program means a better than 90 percent chance of complete correction, a healthy life reclaimed. To help raise awareness and ease the stigma associated with fistula, the AmeriCares program is running weekly radio ads and leading medical outreach trips to local hospitals. Women who have been successfully treated by the program now connect with women suffering with fistula to educate them about their condition and encourage them to seek treatment that can change their lives. Since its launch in 1997, the AmeriCares Obstetric Fistula Repair program has completed more than 2,000 procedures, and treats 250 obstetric fistula cases annually.

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