Maternal health advocate and founder of Every Mother Counts, Christy Turlington Burns recently visited the National Fistula Center at the Dhaka Medical College in Bangladesh.
There she met patients waiting for a surgery that could potentially transform their lives. She also learned more about obstetric fistula, a childbirth disability that affects up to 2 million women in the world leaving them chronically incontinent, ashamed and isolated.
In Bangladesh, an estimated 71,000 women live with the condition and every year there are another 3,000 to 4,000 cases. The center provides repair surgeries free of charge and refers fistula survivors to a rehabilitation center, where they can learn how to adjust as they go back to their communities.
During her visit, Ms. Turlington met a 45-year-old woman who had been living with fistula for 12 years. In the next bed was a girl who looked to be no older than 15 or 16 years old, also living with obstetric fistula. Both patients had lost their babies during their deliveries.
According to Ms. Turlington, “like so many development issues, this is one that requires a holistic approach -- prevention is as important as treatment to prevent fistulas and maternal mortality, but rehabilitation is also paramount for full recovery for those who have received treatment so that these women can reenter society.” Read the blog post.
Photo: Josh Estey.