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March 8: International Women’s Day

  • March 7, 2007

International Women’s Day celebrates the outstanding accomplishments, achievements as well as life-changing movements and triumphs of women throughout the world.

AmeriCares is honored to work with a vast number of organizations to improve access to health care for women across the globe. AmeriCares Medical Outreach Program supports The International Organization for Women and Development’s (IOWD) enduring campaign to end fistula in Niger.

Vesico-vaginal fistula is a preventative injury associated with childbearing. An estimated three million women in the Sub-Sahara, Asia and the Arab region are living with fistulas. Vesico-vaginal fistulas are holes that are created between the vaginal wall, the bladder and sometimes the rectum, caused from prolonged obstructive labor.  Although the condition exists in the United States and other developed countries, it is most common in developing counties, as women lack the funds needed to seek professional medical attention and or the means to transport themselves to a medical center. Only 58% of women in developing countries deliver children with the assistance of a professional.

Often times, the emotional affects of the injury are worse then the physical.  The horrible condition leaves the women in embarrassment and humiliation because they lack the ability to control their bladder and bowel movements, causing them to live with a constant stench. In some cases, women are abandoned from their families and ostracized from their villages.  

AmeriCares is working with the IOWD, a nonprofit organization that is committed to working with the Nigerien people in creating a self sustaining program that addresses the repair and rehabilitation of women living with fistula. IOWD sends volunteer teams to Niger four times a year, and thus far have performed nearly 500 surgeries. AmeriCares donations of Foley catheters and other medicines including antibiotics and anesthesia allow the medical volunteers to properly perform these fistula surgeries. 

  Women wait to be seen by the medical volunteers.
PHOTO: courtesy of IOWD

“Without your donations, we wouldn’t have any antibiotics for the patients,” says Barbara Margolies, founder and executive director of IOWD. “Can you imagine the infections that might incur without the use of antibiotics? We would perform the surgeries, but the possibility of infection…leading to other problems, (including death) would undoubtedly affect the long-term outcomes of the surgeries.”

AmeriCares Medical Outreach Program donates medical products to qualified U.S. health care professionals who are traveling overseas to provide charitable medical care. AmeriCares continues to better the lives of women and their families by providing them with the health care they need to live full and promising lives.