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A Life-Changing Surgery that Restores Hope

  • May 22, 2023
  • Mother and Child Health
  • Tanzania
  • Christina smiles in front of her home outside of Mwanza, Tanzania. Christina has received ten fistula surgeries, including free surgery provided by the Americares program, and still requires more in order to become fully healed. (Photo/Andrew Kapakasa)

“I would like to advise mums with fistula not to lose hope even though it is a huge problem. Do not lose hope.” 


In Mwanza, Tanzania, Christina knows all too well how women can suffer without adequate health care. After prolonged, obstructed labor, Christina gave birth to a stillborn baby and suffered an injury that caused a fistula, an abnormal opening between a woman’s genital tract and her urinary tract or rectum, causing continuous leakage of urine, stool or both. Christina’s fistula caused ongoing health problems, but she had support – from her family and, in partnership with Bugando Medical Center, Americares.

Woman sits in blue and floral blouse and skirt sits in green chair with her young sister leaning on her lap.
Christina and her little sister are in front of their home outside of Mwanza, Tanzania. (Photo/Andrew Kapakasa)

Americares partnership with BMC ensures Christina and other fistula patients receive repair surgery, counseling, and pre- and post-operative care at no cost. Christina is one of more than 160 women each year who receive life-changing surgery from this partnership. The partners are now working to expand mental health and psychosocial support to fistula clients.

May 23 is the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, and Americares, in collaboration with BMC and other partners, are in rural communities in Tanzania’s Kigoma region, raising awareness of fistula, providing surgical services and referring women for higher services at BMC if needed. “We’re proud to partner with Bugando Medical Center to provide surgeries at no cost to women in need. This is life-changing.” says Dr. Nguke Mwakatundu, Americares country director in Tanzania. “The progress to end obstetric fistula is not enough. We should increase efforts and act now to end obstetric fistula in Tanzania by 2030.”

According to the United Nations, 2 million women in low-resource settings have an obstetric fistula, 100,000 more develop one every year and only 1 in 50 ever receives treatment.  Access to quality reproductive health care and skilled birth attendants can prevent this devastating injury.

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