WASHINGTON, Feb. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced a $70 million, five-year program to prevent and treat obstetric fistula in developing countries. Fistula Care aims to increase access to emergency obstetrical care and will work with hospitals to strengthen their capacity to provide surgical fistula repair. The program will also work with community groups and individuals to increase understanding about obstetric fistula and steps to prevent this condition. In addition, Fistula Care will conduct research to strengthen the quality of fistula services and will work toward the institutionalization of fistula prevention, repair and reintegration programs in developing countries.
Obstetric fistula is caused by prolonged, obstructed labor and can be prevented and treated through appropriate obstetric care. However, most women in the developing world lack access and funds for the required medical care. If left untreated, obstetric fistula can lead to a still born baby and, for the mother, incontinence, frequent ulcers and infections, kidney disease, possible paralysis and even death. The ability to treat fistula is further complicated by a shortage of skilled surgeons in developing countries, as well as a lack of equipment and supplies and lengthy hospital stays, which all put a strain on local health budgets. Obstetric fistula is of particular concern in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
In 2004, USAID began supporting projects to build the capacity of local
health care providers in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda, the Democratic Republic
of Congo, Guinea, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Niger, Mali and Bangladesh. In
2006, USAID also supported Mercy Ships in Ghana and Sierra Leone. Mercy
Ships is an international organization that operates a fleet of hospital
ships that provide necessary health care to the poor. The Agency will be
supporting Mercy Ships in Liberia in 2008 that will not only provide
|SOURCE U.S. Agency for International Development|
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