COUNTRY/TOWN: Ghana / Tamale
LENGTH: 2020 onwards
Once the Stop Fistula project has been completed in Liberia this project on prevention, treatment and social insertion for victims of the disease will move on to Tamale in northern Ghana. The programme is to be carried out in collaboration with the University Hospital of Tamale, while the local organisation WILDAF will be responsible for coordinating the project in Ghana.
According to estimates, between 500 and 1,000 new cases of obstetric fistula are detected each year, seriously affecting the physical, psychological and sexual health of the women who suffer from it as well as their economic and social status. A study by the Ghana Health Service (2015) shows that the north is the region where it is most prevalent in the country, although it is difficult to have reliable data due to the marginal situation of women suffering from it.
This project is based on the following lines of work: prevention, treatment and reintegration of patients, as well as training for healthcare staff.
The measures to prevent fistula include opposing early marriage for girls and young women, improving access to family planning services, and providing qualified medical care for all young women and pregnant women. Awareness campaigns are also a key aspect, so the project also carries out information activities within communities.
Surgical treatment is a fundamental part of the project and is carried out via periodic surgical missions by professional Spanish doctors working with local specialists. The project will also address training for local surgeons, gynaecologists, nurses and midwives.
Reintegrating patients into society is no less important, since obstetric fistula carries a heavy stigma for the girls and women who suffer from it, leading to marginalization. Fistula survivors thus require support after reparative treatment. They need to reconnect with their families and communities, as well as with social and work life, in order to regain their dignity and self-esteem. Women for Africa plans to work with WILDAF and UNFPA (United Nations Fund for Population Activities) on reintegrating patients via training in different professions and raising awareness among their families and communities.
Cured patients themselves can play an important role as “ambassadors” in their communities. This is recognized by both UNFPA and ECOWAS’ Regional Plan of Action for combating Obstetric Fistula.