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Democratic Republic of the Congo

Beset by nearly four decades of war and conflict, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has scarce infrastructure and few public health services. Too little access to quality health care has resulted in high maternal and infant mortality rates alike. Family planning and other basic services are extremely limited-where they exist at all-and both obstetric and traumatic fistula place extra burden on women.

Since 2008, EngenderHealth has worked to improve the quality of and access to health services in the DRC through Fistula Care. Partnering with two facilities in the eastern part of the country, the General Referral Hospital of Panzi in Bukavu and HEAL Africa Hospital in Goma, the project addresses obstetric and traumatic gynecologic fistula. The main focus is reducing the number of new fistula cases and providing surgical treatment to those suffering from fistula.

At each site, EngenderHealth is improving health providers' fistula repair and counseling skills. The program also trains doctors and nurses in emergency obstetric care (including the provision of cesarean section), to help them manage childbirth and pregnancy complications and to prevent obstetric fistula from occurring in the first place.

Additionally, Fistula Care supports the provision of transportation to the facilities for treatment and follow-up care, and works with rural clinics to ensure women in need of medical attention are referred to the hospitals. The project also provides equipment to the two hospitals, and advocates for greater attention to the problem of traumatic fistula on the world stage.

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