Stop fistula

Xabi Alonso supports #StopFistula Campaign

Monrovia (Liberia) / Madrid (Spain), April 16th, 2013

The Spanish Women for Africa Foundation presents its “Stop fistula” project in Monrovia

A special unit is being created at the Saint Joseph Catholic Hospital in Monrovia to operate on obstetric fistula and assist high-risk births for free. 


Two million women

In Africa there are over two million women suffering from obstetric fistula, a condition that occurs primarily as a result of births that are blocked and do not receive adequate attention. The Spanish Women for Africa Foundation has launched its “Stop Fistula” project in Monrovia, with which it intends not only to operate on women with fistula, but also to assist first-time births for women of up to 20 years of age where problems arise. All this is to be done free of charge.

This project has the backing of the Government of Liberia

According to the president of the Women for Africa Foundation, Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega, it is the foundation’s most significant project in terms of health. “We could not ignore the fact that millions of women suffer from this condition,” she says, “when it is something that can be prevented simply with suitable maternal and child care.”

Through Stop Fistula,” adds Dr. Javier Salmeán, a specialist in obstetrics and gynaecology, and the director of the project, “we want to prevent and treat obstetric fistula in Monrovia.” Prevention will be carried out through two activities. The first is to assist births for women under 20 giving birth to their first child when there is some type of complication, free of charge. Fistula occurs during obstructed delivery, with a wound opening up that connects the vagina and bladder.”

The second activity is to train midwives, birth assistants and nurses to identify births at risk and refer them to the hospital. The first of these theoretical and practical workshops will be held in the Ministry of Health in late April and the intention is for about 50 women to attend.

“In Women for Africa, we are absolutely certain that it will be the African women themselves with their tenacity, their hard work, their energy and their inexhaustible stamina who will solve their own problems and those of their families, their communities and their continent. And we are here to walk alongside them and accompany them on this journey,” said the President of the Foundation.

In addition to assistance in childbirth, Women for Africa will also carry out repair surgery free of charge for women who already have fistula. In this vein, Dr. Javier Salmeán points out, “We want women to know that fistula can be operated on and that they can get their life back. As well as physical recuperation, this process includes psychological rehabilitation and social reintegration for women who suffer from fistula.”

This is a very important aspect because the vast majority of women who suffer from fistula are rejected by their family and their social environment. Surgery and rehabilitation are a second chance for them because, in the words of Maria Teresa Fernández de la Vega, “the most terrible aspect is that young people with fistula have not only lost their children and their health, but are also often abandoned to their fate, marginalized, with no chance of rebuilding their lives.”

The activity also provides the medical equipment and technical materials necessary for such interventions (examination tables, standing lamps, ultrasound scanners, surgical instruments and a delivery kit for midwives and birth assistants), coupled with information campaigns in the media.

Women for Africa Foundation

The Women for Africa Foundation is a private, nonprofit body founded in Spain in February 2012. Its president, Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega, was Deputy Prime Minister of Spain from 2004 to 2010, as well as fostering the Africa-Spain Meetings known as “Women for a Better World”.

The President of Liberia, H.E. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, is on the Foundation's Advisory Board.

Women who want to be attended can go to Women for Africa Foundation Unit at Saint Joseph’s Catholic Hospital in Monrovia or call this number 088 673 6888.

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