In Yemen, 13 fistula patients had surgery in the months of May and June, with support from UNFPA, using a manual prepared in partnership with the London-based Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO).
Hope increased for fistula patients in the country as Dr. Geert Morren, a Belgian obstetric fistula surgeon, assisted in surgical repairs and also trained two Yemeni medical teams. This was another step forward in the response to fistula after UNFPA established the first two fistula units in the country, where many women still live with the condition.
The two teams trained were from Sana’a and Aden governorates, and each consisted of two gynecologists and two nurses. Dr. Morren trained the gynecologists on how to diagnose, operate and care for fistula patients, introducing novel ways to treat the condition. The professionals are among the first doctors and nurses in the world to be trained with the manual and to learn how to use of these new methods.
Dr. Morren also introduced the trainees to a new approach to patient care, including pre and post-operative procedures. This new approach adds human and rights-based aspects to the overall technical training on obstetric fistula that could be lost amidst the sophisticated operation techniques that need to be mastered. According to Dr. Morren, “the two teams trained are ready to start working on fistula cases.”
Having heard about Dr. Morren’s mission to Yemen, about 53 patients from across the country came to the UNFPA-supported fistula unit in the AL-Thawrah hospital. Some of the cases handled by Dr. Morren were from a Somali refugee camp. All 13 patients who underwent surgery during the mission were successfully treated and went back to their villages after being discharged.
Dr. Morren with the Yemeni medical teams.
“Fistula patients are the survivors of poor obstetrical care. For each one of them, ten other women may have died during delivery or pregnancy,” Dr. Morren stated.
UNFPA Yemen intends to further explore and understand the complex issues surrounding obstetric fistula in the country. "We anticipate better understanding of maternal health needs, which sits at the heart of UNFPA’s mandate," said Marc Vandenberghe, the UNFPA Representative in the country.
Photos by Dr. Afrah Thabet and Fahmia Al-Fotih, UNFPA Yemen, 2012.