Fistula Survivors Ready to Return to Their Communities

Fistula Survivors Ready to Return to Their Communities
Many of the geraduates who once faced isolation are now prepared for a successful return to their communities. Photo: UNFPA/Liberia
  • 26 February 2009

MONROVIA, Liberia – Seventeen survivors of a disabling injury of childbearing are now ready to return to their communities, having undergone successful surgery, followed by counselling and skills training through the Liberia Fistula Rehabilitation and Reintegration Programme.

In a graduation ceremony today, the women were awarded certificates and gifts, and urged to become “ambassadors and role models for those who have not got the courage and opportunities to seek help”. Before their surgery, some were socially isolated because the fistulas left them incontinent.

Since its launch in 2007, the rehabilitation project has successfully treated more than 300 patients with various types and severity of fistula and has trained 40 women in income-generating activities. Funded by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, the project is implemented by an NGO, Liberia Prevention of Maternal Mortality, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. UNFPA, through its Campaign to End Fistula, is also helping the JFK Hospital in Monrovia, the largest referral medical centre in the country, to provide specialized training to surgical staff and nurses in fistula case management.

The graduation served as a milestone for both the lives of the young women and in the effort to fight the stigma associated with fistula. “You can afford to celebrate today because of the courage and determination you have shown in enduring this problem," UNFPA Country Representative Rose Gakuba told the graduates as she urged them to be role models for others. "You are able to go back to your own communities and join families who may have once rejected you because of the ‘shame’ they thought you brought to them."

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