UNFPA partners with Mozambique government, Operation Fistula to scale up InfoFistula app

12 June 2020
“After becoming pregnant at 13, I tell every girl in my community to stay in school and use contraceptives," shares the then-20-year-old Mafalda (far left) from Mocuba District, Zambezia Province in Mozambique. As an advocate for girls’ sexual and reproductive rights and choices, her mother speaks about her transformation: “My daughter found courage from the difficult times she faced. Now she is passing on to other girls the lessons she has learned”. © UNFPA Mozambique/Helene Christensen

Maputo, MOZAMBIQUE – UNFPA, the charity organization Operation Fistula and the Government of Mozambique are working together on InfoFistula, an app that collects real-time data and carries out mobile-based monitoring of obstetric fistula cases in the country.

The agreement highlights the power of partnership to leverage technology and innovation to support the government's goal of ending fistula for all women and girls in the country, Andrea M. Wojnar, Resident Representative of UNFPA Mozambique, and Operation Fistula founder and CEO Seth Cochran wrote in a joint blog post to promote the collaboration. 

InfoFistula will support efforts by frontline health and social workers to collect data on and document every aspect of a patient's journey with fistula, including identification, diagnosis, surgery, follow-up and community reintegration. Over 220 patients from 3 pilot provinces are currently registered on the app to offer information about repair surgeries across different regions of Mozambique.

Following a successful pilot across the three provinces in 2019, the partners will soon launch the InfoFistula app in more districts and in new provinces, hoping to scale up its reach and impact across Mozambique by training more health and social action workers on the use of the tool.

The app equips frontline nurses, doctors, health workers, and social workers the tools they need to report real-time data and information about their patients, which can help influence the creation of effective prevention strategies in the fight against fistula. 

Obstetric fistula is a hole between the birth canal and bladder and/or rectum caused by prolonged, obstructed labour without access to timely, high-quality medical treatment. Although the condition is entirely preventable, it persists among the most vulnerable and marginalized women and girls.

On the recent International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, the Ministry of Health announced it would soon resume repair surgeries despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the devastating psychological, health, and social impacts that fistula has on girls and women, the move aims to help women and girls restore their dignity as soon as possible. 

The announcement also comes at a time when UNFPA and partners have advocated for the continuity of surgeries and maternal/child health services amid the pandemic. UNFPA is now working with colleagues at the provincial level and with civil society partners to ensure the effective implementation and monitoring of these surgeries to minimize risk of exposure to COVID-19.  

In circumstances where movement and travel are limited, technological and mobile solutions like InfoFistula are critical to be able to record data and information about repair surgeries, working towards the prevention of fistula among women and girls in Mozambique.

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