In Debark district, an area of rural villages and burnished hillsides in northern Ethiopia, 40 former fistula patients will become the leading voices in a campaign encouraging maternal health awareness and responsibility.
Former fistula patients are ideally suited to combat the misconceptions of female healthcare and bolster care-seeking behavior. Having experienced the physical, emotional, and economical detriments of obstetric fistula, they will have a profound impact on health awareness by sharing their stories and becoming Maternal Health Advocates. Although previously excluded from society, ex-fistula patients will be empowered to reassert themselves into their communties. 9 women have already volunteered for the project - 6 of which received fistula treatement several years ago.
Support networks will be stationed throughout Debark and Dabat Districts to foster health awareness among women in over 45 communities and develop an atmosphere conducive to safe motherhood. Posters, radio announcements, and SMS campaigns will help knit a tight web of empowered women. Training and participatory workshops will provide a platform for maternal health education, information which will then be spread throughout the region by mobilization activities.
During these workshops, WAHA also pairs the MHAs with Health extensions workers, certified health post representatives who act as a liaison between health facilities and rural communities. Thanks to this collaboration, women in need of healthcare in rural communities are identified and assisted.
Through these peer-to-peer support groups, the project will prevent future fistula cases, help ex-fistula patients overcome the jarring experience of social isolation, and decrease Ethiopia’s maternal and child mortality rate, steering all Ethiopians towards a life of dignity.
WAHA's expert fistula surgeons Dr. Mulu Muleta and Dr. Ambaye Wolde Michael have already held two training workshops in which over a dozen former fistula patients participated.
For more information about our projects in Ethiopia, click here.