Changing Women's Lives through Fistula Repair Surgery

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Changing Women's Lives through Fistula Repair Surgery

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With @baxter_intl product donations, @DirectRelief is changing women’s lives through #fistula repair surgery. http://3bl.me/skyteh

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At Bwaila Fistula Care Center, Dr. Jeff Wilkinson performs fistula repair surgeries for more than 200 women each year. The center is one of the few in the region that offer the service.

The fistula repair procedure is life-changing for women, addressing their physical symptoms as well as the stigma and isolation that often accompany the condition. At Bwaila Fistula Care Center, women are offered educational programs to help them reintegrate into their communities.

Thursday, July 24, 2014 - 12:30pm

CAMPAIGN: Case Studies in Sustainability

CONTENT: Article

In developing areas of the world with little access to healthcare, complications during childbirth can have lasting effects. For many women, obstructed or prolonged labor can lead not only to the tragic loss of a child, but also to health complications such as obstetric fistula.

Those living with fistula—a hole in the birth canal that causes constant leaking of urine and/or feces—often encounter severe stigma and isolation. Although the condition is largely treatable, women in some locations lack access to healthcare services and corrective surgery.

Direct Relief, one of Baxter's humanitarian aid partners, has been a leader in addressing this issue. The organization has extensively mapped the level of fistula care services available to women in Africa and Asia, and helps women suffering from fistula not only improve their health, but also integrate back into society. Baxter pre-positions products each year for critical medical needs and disaster relief efforts through Direct Relief and other partners such as AmeriCares. Through product donations from companies such as Baxter, Direct Relief makes it possible for fistula care facilities throughout Africa and Asia to perform life-changing procedures.

- See more at: http://www.sustainability.baxter.com/resources/case-studies/2013-report/changing-womens-lives.html#sthash.1GxxilAh.dpuf

In developing areas of the world with little access to healthcare, complications during childbirth can have lasting effects. For many women, obstructed or prolonged labor can lead not only to the tragic loss of a child, but also to health complications such as obstetric fistula.

Those living with fistula—a hole in the birth canal that causes constant leaking of urine and/or feces—often encounter severe stigma and isolation. Although the condition is largely treatable, women in some locations lack access to healthcare services and corrective surgery.

Direct Relief, one of Baxter's humanitarian aid partners, has been a leader in addressing this issue. The organization has extensively mapped the level of fistula care services available to women in Africa and Asia, and helps women suffering from fistula not only improve their health, but also integrate back into society. Baxter pre-positions products each year for critical medical needs and disaster relief efforts through Direct Relief and other partners such as AmeriCares. Through product donations from companies such as Baxter, Direct Relief makes it possible for fistula care facilities throughout Africa and Asia to perform life-changing procedures.

- See more at: http://www.sustainability.baxter.com/resources/case-studies/2013-report/changing-womens-lives.html#sthash.1GxxilAh.dpuf

In developing areas of the world with little access to healthcare, complications during childbirth can have lasting effects. For many women, obstructed or prolonged labor can lead not only to the tragic loss of a child, but also to health complications such as obstetric fistula.

Those living with fistula—a hole in the birth canal that causes constant leaking of urine and/or feces—often encounter severe stigma and isolation. Although the condition is largely treatable, women in some locations lack access to healthcare services and corrective surgery.

Direct Relief, one of Baxter's humanitarian aid partners, has been a leader in addressing this issue. The organization has extensively mapped the level of fistula care services available to women in Africa and Asia, and helps women suffering from fistula not only improve their health, but also integrate back into society. Baxter pre-positions products each year for critical medical needs and disaster relief efforts through Direct Relief and other partners such as AmeriCares. Through product donations from companies such as Baxter, Direct Relief makes it possible for fistula care facilities throughout Africa and Asia to perform life-changing procedures.

- See more at: http://www.sustainability.baxter.com/resources/case-studies/2013-report/changing-womens-lives.html#sthash.1GxxilAh.dpuf

Baxter Sustainability Report case study

In developing areas of the world with little access to healthcare, complications during childbirth can have lasting effects. For many women, obstructed or prolonged labor can lead not only to the tragic loss of a child, but also to health complications such as obstetric fistula.

Those living with fistula—a hole in the birth canal that causes constant leaking of urine and/or feces—often encounter severe stigma and isolation. Although the condition is largely treatable, women in some locations lack access to healthcare services and corrective surgery.

Direct Relief, one of Baxter's humanitarian aid partners, has been a leader in addressing this issue. The organization has extensively mapped the level of fistula care services available to women in Africa and Asia, and helps women suffering from fistula not only improve their health, but also integrate back into society. Baxter pre-positions products each year for critical medical needs and disaster relief efforts through Direct Relief and other partners such as AmeriCares. Through product donations from companies such as Baxter, Direct Relief makes it possible for fistula care facilities throughout Africa and Asia to perform life-changing procedures.

At Bwaila Fistula Care Center in Lilongwe, Malawi, Dr. Jeff Wilkinson performs fistula repair surgery for four to seven women a day, two to three days a week for part of the year. He also works on maternal health projects in the area with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. With the support of financial assistance from the Freedom from Fistula Foundation and product donations through Direct Relief, the Bwaila Fistula Care Center was able to see 275 fistula patients and perform 220 surgeries last year.

"There are very few options for care in the central region of Malawi, as only a handful of clinicians can do fistula surgery at a basic level," says Dr. Wilkinson. "The surgery is transformational. The women go from ashamed, isolated, constantly wet and malodorous to resuming a normal life."

Such was the case for one 28-year-old woman, Sarah*, who had surgery at Bwaila Fistula Care Center to repair a fistula she suffered from for ten years after losing her child during obstructed labor.

"I heard about the fistula center from a neighbor who had been a patient there," she shared with the help of a translator. "I can now return home without fear of being wet all the time. I can go to church, and go back to the market to sell vegetables from my garden."

In addition to the health benefits gained from the fistula repair procedure, women at the center also receive resources to help them transition back to life in their communities.

"We have social reintegration, financial literacy and other education programs for the patients to help them re-engage," says Dr. Wilkinson.

The programs have helped Sarah readjust back to life in her community while working toward building a bright future for herself.

"They taught me about how to manage money and how to speak a little English. I'm hoping to come back and learn some more at the center and also one day maybe to go back to school," she says.

For more information about Direct Relief's efforts in fighting fistula, visit http://www.directrelief.org/focus/maternal-and-child-health/obstetric-fistula/.

Keywords: Philanthropy & Cause Initiatives | Baxter Healthcare | Baxter International | Baxter product donations | Bwaila Fistula Care Center | Direct Relief | Dr. Jeff Wilkinson | Health & Healthcare | Philanthropy & Cause Initiatives | fistula care Malawi | fistula repair surgery

CAMPAIGN: Case Studies in Sustainability

CONTENT: Article