Millions of women live daily with the humiliation and dejection of Vesico-vaginal fistula (VVF). The World Health Organization estimates more than two million women and girls worldwide suffer from fistula(s), with 50,000 to 100,000 new cases each year.
Women’s Obstetric Health
Without access to proper obstetric care, women in developing nations can spend days in agonizing labour before finally delivering a stillborn child. For those who survive, many develop the debilitating condition known as Vesico-vaginal Fistula (VVF).
When prolonged labour or other trauma causes a fistula or hole to form between the bladder and vagina, women find the constant trickle of urine, and sometimes faeces, makes normal life impossible. In parts of the world where a woman’s worth lies in her ability to bear children and her usefulness as a wife, their husbands and families often abandon them to suffer alone.
Mercy Ships performs free fistula repair surgeries onboard the Africa Mercy. After recovering in the ship's ward, the healed patients are given new outfits and headdresses as symbols of their restored life.
Aberdeen West African Fistula Centre
In addition to offering free fistula operations onboard ships, in 2005 Mercy Ships opened a permanent women’s clinic in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Dedicated to women’s obstetric health in the surrounding region, the Aberdeen West African Fistula Centre is one of the few locations on the African continent offering Vesico-vaginal fistula repair.
Mercy Ships statistics
Since 1978, Mercy Ships crew has:
- performed more than 67,000 life-changing operations such as cleft lip and palate repair, cataract removal, orthopaedic procedures, facial reconstruction and obstetric fistula repair.
- established a women and children’s health centre in West Africa which has performed more than 1,558 obstetric surgeries and some 28,900 paediatric outpatient consultations.