Malawi President Joyce Banda on Thursday hailed the Freedom from Fistula Foundation of the United Kingdom for working across Africa to improve lives of women suffering from obstetric fistula through repairs.
The President was speaking during the official opening of the Fistula Care Centre at Bwaila Hospital in Malawiâ€™s capital, Lilongwe. The 25-bed centre has been established with support from the Freedom from Fistula Foundation.
“I am informed that the Freedom from Fistula Foundation has fistula care centres in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Kenya and now Malawi. The foundation is working across the African continent to improve the lives of women who have suffered the tragedy of an obstetric fistula. I commend the foundation for working to help prevent this tragedy in the first place and treat those women in whom fistula has occurred,” she said.
The President said she was pleased to be at the opening ceremony of the centre because it symbolised the celebration of the beginning of the end of obstetric fistula problem in Malawi.
She said Malawi women should no longer fear the tragic loss of their precious children due to obstructed labour or the loss of their dignity as a result of obstetric fistula.
Founder of the Freedom from Fistula Foundation Dr. Anne Gloag, who worked as a nurse for many years, said she hoped the fistula centre would help Banda achieve her maternal health and safe motherhood dream.
Gloag pledged to train 70 midwives of the 200 that Banda requested when the two met in UK recently, to help in the care of obstetric fistula patients.
Dr. Gloag said fistula is caused by obstructed labour, early marriages resulting to early pregnancies, and delayed access to health care during labour.
Citing the achievements of the fistula centre since it opened to the public, she said it has so far seen 450 women from all regions of the country, out of which over 200 have been successfully repaired.
Gloag and her brother were also behind Stagecoach Bus Company that once operated in Malawi.
Minister of Health Khumbo Kachali, who is also Vice-President, said fistula is one of the most disturbing problems of womanhoodâ€”mostly associated with several myths which lead to stigma and discrimination.