Our newest partner, the Worldwide Fistula Fund, celebrated the opening of the Danja Fistula Center, its first freestanding fistula center last Saturday, February 11, 2012. A state-of-the-art fistula hospital in Niger, the Danja Fistula Center will provide free obstetric fistula surgeries, prevention programming and aftercare for women afflicted by this condition.
Founded in 1995, the Worldwide Fistula Fund is a not-for-profit public charity that provides medical treatment for women suffering from obstetric fistula in sub-Saharan Africa.
“The goal of the Worldwide Fistula Fund was to always create a freestanding fistula center and use it as a model center that can be replicated,” said Bree Neely, Director of Development for the Worldwide Fistula Fund. “If you can do it in a desolate area you have figured out the challenges and then can move on to create more hospitals in more populated areas.”
With the highest rate of maternal mortality Niger is in desperate need of services that will keep mothers and their newborns alive. “We will be doing prevention outreach within a 50 kilometer catch net,” Neely mentioned. “We will spread the message to women that if the sun rises two times during their labor then they need to go to the hospital. We will be working on this from a prevention angle.”
The Danja Fistula Center will be open year round save for April through May, the hot season. All services are free for the women. In the first year there will be 400 fistula operations and then will gradually ramp up to 1100 surgeries annually.
In addition to performing fistula operations, the Worldwide Fistula Fund will also create curriculum for a social reintegration program. The program will teach women how to read and will also provide micro-financing opportunities.
“Most women who have fistulas have been left by their families,” said Neely. “They are full of shame, embarrassments and have no resources. It’s really our responsibility to not just sew up their fistula, but there is a broader responsibility to see if they are OK and can build a life for themselves.”