British charity pledges fight against fistula in Malawi

A British Charity, Freedom from Fistula Foundation, has pledged to intensify its fight against obstetric fistula in Malawi by opening a bigger fistula unit at Bwaila Hospital in Lilongwe.

“We are opening a bigger fistula unit at Bwaila hospital so that more pregnant women are assisted during delivery,” said Ann Gloag, a British reknowned entrepreneur who is the founder of the Freedom from Fistula Charity.

Gloag, who founded one of Britain’s largest public transport company, Stagecoach, was speaking in London after holding a closed door meeting with President Joyce Banda.

Gloag: Met President Banda

The State President is in London to participate in the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Gloag said her Freedom from Fistula Foundation had been working in Malawi for the past two years repairing fistulas for the “very unfortunate women” at Bwaila Hospital.

Obstetric fistula is one of the most serious and disabling complications of childbirth, which has virtually been eliminated in developed countries but is still prevalent in the developing world including Malawi.

The condition mainly occurs as a result of delays in deciding to seek medical attention, reaching the health facility and receiving emergency obstetric care at a health facility.

The condition follows prolonged obstructed labour commonly arising from poor obstetric care and results in incontinence which usually occurs between the four to fourteen days after delivery.

Obstetric fistula is preventable and treatable although most women are either unaware that treatment is available or cannot afford it.

Commenting on other issues concerning maternal health that she discussed with President Banda, Gloag said the two discussed the need to increase the number of trained midwives especially in rural areas as one way of tackling challenges maternal in maternal health.

“We discussed how best we can raise funds in order have more and well train more midwives as a prime intervention if we are going to improve maternal death rate and prevention of fistula,” she said.

Gloag said the two also discussed the importance of setting up many rural clinics so that rural women were offered professional maternal services.

She said the initiative would promote the importance to have women report to such clinics seven to 10 days before delivery so that they should get professional help and save them from preventable pregnancy related complications such as fistula.

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