About the project
An obstetric fistula is a hole in the birth canal whereby blood flow is cut off to the surrounding tissues, the tissues die and a hole forms through which urine and/or feces pass uncontrollably. Incontinence arises, and left untreated, fistula can lead to chronic medical problems. There are two primary causes of fistula in women in developing countries: childbirth, causing obstetric fistula and sexual violence, causing traumatic fistula. Although rare, sometimes fistula occurs in men, primarily through accidents or trauma.
The Safaricom Foundation has partnered with the Jamaa Mission Hospital to provide free surgical treatment, care, counselling and support for women and girls living with fistula. Jamaa Hospital is located in Uhuru Estate in Nairobi, and the women and girls who come to Jamaa Hospital hail from all corners of the country.
With the support from the Safaricom Foundation, the Hospital conducted 262 surgeries. The delicate corrective surgical procedure takes about 40 minutes and is conducted by specialized surgeons. In severe cases of fistula, multiple procedures may be required. For those who develop fistula and leave their homes to seek treatment at Jamaa Hospital, a significant number of them face challenges in covering their transport and accommodation costs. Looking forward, Jamaa Hospital’s longer term objective is to be self-sustaining, drawing lessons from Ethiopia’s Hamlin Fistula Centre, the world’s largest specialist centre. The plan partly involves having women who have been treated but cannot return home, stay on at the for on-going review, counselling, skills building and, to mobilize start-up capital to finance their own income generating activities.