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Also, mark your calendars for March 8, 2021! We are hosting a virtual event on #InternationalWomensDay entitled, “Towards a Fistula-Free Future: 15 Years of Breakthroughs and Program Impact.” Register today: http://bit.ly/FCPlus-Webinar

Thanks everyone! The FC+ website is a great place to start for more information and resources on fistula prevention and treatment, including research results, project reports, and stories from providers and clients. http://bit.ly/fistularesources https://twitter.com/EngenderHealth/status/1364608432880443393

Obstetric fistula is a beacon of inequality, as it occurs where women are already living with limited resources and access to healthcare. Additionally, once fistula occurs, women often face significant stigma and isolation which can impact their social and economic wellbeing. https://twitter.com/EngenderHealth/status/1364605591528886273

We also must strengthen the healthcare workforce, particularly by supporting high-quality surgical training to ensure women receive quality c-sections when needed–a focus of the new @USAID_MOMENTUM Safe Surgery in Family Planning & Obstetrics project led by @EngenderHealth.

Great question! To truly #EndFistula, we must prevent new cases while treating existing ones. Some keys to fistula prevention are girls’ education, addressing poverty, delaying marriage age, access to sexual & repro healthcare, and timely & high-quality emergency obstetric care. https://twitter.com/EngenderHealth/status/1364605397756182530

Yes. Depending on severity, there are surgical & non-surgical treatment options. The Fistula Care Plus (FC+) project works to strengthen the entire continuum of care–from prevention to fistula diagnosis, safe surgical repair, rehabilitation, & reintegration back to her community. https://twitter.com/EngenderHealth/status/1364605303858282499

Obstetric fistula is a maternal injury that can occur from prolonged/obstructed labor where a woman is left with a hole in the birth canal that leaks urine and/or feces. An estimated 2 million women live with this devastating condition–almost all in low & middle-income countries. https://twitter.com/EngenderHealth/status/1364598320333791237

Starting now! Tune in to for an interactive session on obstetric fistula with the @USAID @fistulacare Plus project.

"Everyone, equally, has a human right to health. However, our health systems, communities, and nations do not support people's health equally or equitably."

Read the full text from @EngenderHealth & @POuagaPF on diversity and solidarity in global health: https://bit.ly/3uvFsCO

Prioritize inclusion of people who suffer the most from inequities in health and health-care for designing solutions to address their needs. Commentary with @EngenderHealth team who talk about #power & #DiversityandInclusion in global health @TraciLBaird https://www.thelancet.com/journals/langlo/article/PIIS2214-109X(21)00029-2/fulltext#%20

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September 30, 2020

Webinar: Integrating Physical Rehabilitation to Strengthen Fistula and Maternity Care

EngenderHealth’s USAID-funded Fistula Care Plus project, with partners Panzi Foundation and Mama, LLC, hosted a webinar to discuss the impact of integrating physical rehabilitation in fistula and maternity care.

Maternal morbidities such as pelvic organ prolapse and obstetric fistula affect women’s ability to carry out daily tasks and participate fully in society. Surgical treatment is often required to fully repair these conditions. However, for many women, physical therapy (or physiotherapy-informed treatment) can make a profound impact on the severity of symptoms and quality of life. Despite this impact and the low cost of physical therapy relative to many other interventions, these services are often a missing piece in health care, particularly in low-resource settings.

Physiotherapy session with hospital staff at Panzi General Reference Hospital in Bukavu, DRC

Ms. Jessica McKinney, Physiotherapist from Mama,LLC, conducting a physiotherapy session with hospital staff at Panzi General Reference Hospital in Bukavu, DRC.

During the webinar, Fistula Care Plus and partners Panzi Foundation and Mama, LLC highlighted initiatives to bridge the gap in access to and capacity for pelvic floor physical therapy in low- and middle-income countries and shared examples of progress in this area from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). A new and innovative resource, Implementing Physical Rehabilitation Services into Comprehensive Fistula and Maternity Care: A Training Guide for Health Workers, was presented by Dr. Laura Keyser and Ms. Jessica McKinney, Physiotherapists from Mama, LLC. The training guide is a practical tool for health care workers to introduce physical rehabilitation services into comprehensive fistula and maternity care.

Teaching women about pelvic anatomy and function at Panzi General Reference Hospital in Bukavu, DRC

Dr. Rachel Kinja, physiotherapy department lead at Panzi Hospital, teaching women about pelvic anatomy and function at Panzi General Reference Hospital in Bukavu, DRC.

Case studies were provided on the successful integration of physiotherapy at the Panzi General Reference Hospital in Bukavu, DRC. Dr. Kenny Raha, an OB-GYN and traumatic fistula surgeon, shared his experience providing fistula diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation both at the facility and in remote areas of DRC. Dr. Raha believes that fistula surgery is life-changing for women, and physiotherapy can give even better results after recovery. The benefits of physical therapy include decreased length of hospital stay, improved health outcomes, and often reduced need for expensive medical procedures, resulting in improved quality of life.

Success stories were shared by Dr. Rachel Kinja, Physiotherapy department lead at Panzi Hospital. Dr. Kinja stated that “Physiotherapy activities have been implemented among all female staff engaged in the hospital, women engaged in the Panzi Foundation and V-DAY. Women are involved and love to participate in the sessions.” Women from these sessions are then chosen to serve as focal points to form a committee that leads the sub-groups.

At the end of the webinar, Dr. Vandana Tripathi, Fistula Care Plus project Director, reminded attendees that more evidence and standardization are needed so future research can build on frameworks to show the importance of holistic care within fistula maternity care.

Related Links 

Promoting Women’s Well-being through Physical Rehabilitation: The Impact of Integration in Fistula and Maternity Care Presentation  

Implementing Physical Rehabilitation Services into Comprehensive Fistula and Maternity Care: A Training Guide for Health Workers 

Rehabilitation and reintegration programming adjunct to female genital fistula surgery: A systematic scoping review 

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