Soul Source is proud to again donate dilators and personal lubricants to the Baylor College of Medicine's Global Women's Health Fellowship. Dr. Rachel Pope has committed to 2 years to work in their clinic in the sub-Saharan African country of Malawi, treating women with obstetric fistula.
Fistula occurs when the baby’s head is too big to pass through the bones of the mother’s pelvis. In high-resource settings, a woman in this situation would immediately go in for a caesarean delivery. In low-resource settings, women go into labor in remote villages far from a health care facility, in a hospital or health facility that doesn’t provide C-sections or a significant delay occurs at a critical time in the delivery. The baby’s head compresses the soft tissues of the pelvis, resulting in areas of dead tissue that ultimately lead to a hole between the bladder and/or rectum and the vagina. The baby dies ninety-five percent of the time, and women are left leaking urine or stool from their vagina.
By the early twentieth century, obstetric fistula was essentially eliminated in the United States. The last fistula hospital in the country closed its doors in 1895, but more than a decade into the twenty-first century, fistula persists in many poor nations. According to the World Health Organization, more than two million women worldwide suffer from the devastating effects of fistula. In the sub-Saharan African country of Malawi, it is estimated that fistula may occur in two percent of deliveries.
Although more attention than ever is being paid to women’s health in places like Malawi, educating women about their health – and educating young people to take control of their health care – remains critical to eliminating fistula. In developing nations, the condition still discriminates. It targets the poorest and most vulnerable women, many of whom live in remote areas and have scant access to education and health care. Women suffering the effects of fistula are often shunned by their communities, left by their husbands and even ostracized by their families and friends.
Dr. Pope and her colleagues in Malawi are discovering that use of vaginal dilators after surgery to correct a fistula can help women regain their sexual functionality. In Malawi, sex is closely tied to stable relationships and economic stability for women. Therefore, a young woman who cannot have intercourse will have a difficult and desperate experience.
Here we are loading up during her short visit back to the US. For more information about her work go to https://will2love.com/blog/repairing-a-vaginal-fistula-in-malawi