In the News

From Obstetric Fistula Survivor to Empowered Burkinabé

31 July 2013
Author: UNFPA
From Obstetric Fistula Survivor to Empowered Burkinabé

Community outreach brings fistula survivors out of the shadows. Courtesy FCI.

KRIOLLO OURARSABA, Burkina Faso — "Today," Mariama Boubacar Diallo says, "Thank God, I no longer suffer. I'm healthy; I am healed." Mariama, a resident of the village of Kriollo Ourarsaba, located in the northern Sahel region of Burkina Faso, reflects on her recent surgery to repair the obstetric fistula she developed while giving birth to her third child four years ago.

Obstetric fistula, an injury to the birth canal resulting from an obstructed or prolonged birth, causes long-term, physical pain. Mariama, like many women suffering fistula, also experienced emotional distress from losing the respect of her family and community.

Burkina Faso, a land-locked West African country, struggles against chronic poverty like many of its neighbors in the Sahel, the southern band of the Sahara Desert that stretches across the width of the African continent. Most recently, Burkina Faso has been working to overcome the severe food shortage that has plagued the region since 2011.

Although Mariama wasn't rejected by her husband when she suffered from obstetric fistula, her in-laws blamed and abused her.

Recognizing the urgency of the food security crisis, the USAID has reserved more than $56.5 million to fund projects working in areas of agriculture, livelihoods, health and water, sanitation and hygiene in the region. To counteract the food security crisis and mobilize productive members of society, policymakers should address the unnecessary loss of life that occurs when mothers suffer or die from preventable pregnancy and childbirth complications. Frontline health workers are a key part of the solution, both for preventing fistula from occurring and for ensuring that survivors receive the treatment they need.

Through in Burkina Faso and around the developing world, Family Care International has worked to raise awareness of the causes of and treatment for obstetric fistula. FCI-Burkina Faso, with support from UNFPA, has worked with communities and partner organizations in the Sahel region to prevent fistula by improving access to and utilization of emergency obstetric care, which is provided by midwives and doctors in health centers and hospitals that are too often inaccessible to women in rural villages.

Read the full story by Alain Kaboré on the Impatient Optimists website

Burkina Faso
Population:
17.4 mil
  • Fertility rate
    5.7
  • Maternal Mortality Ratio
    400
  • Contraceptives prevalence rate
    18
  • Population aged 10-24
    33%
Youth secondary school enrollment:
Boys 22%
Girls 18%