Since 1990, EngenderHealth has worked in Guinea to improve the quality of sexual and reproductive health care for women—so they have what they need to plan their lives and care for their families. Our first efforts in Guinea, at the request of the country's Ministry of Health, was to provide assistance introducing voluntary, permanent contraception in five clinics.
Today, a key component of EngenderHealth’s work here centers on the prevention and treatment of obstetric fistula, through USAID’s flagship program, Fistula Care. In Guinea, access to quality maternal health care is limited, and maternal mortality and injuries like fistula are common.
Through Fistula Care, EngenderHealth works with four large public hospitals, covering much of the country:
- Kissidougou District Hospital in Kissidougou
- Ignace Deen University Teaching Hospital in Conakry
- Jean Paul II Hospital in Conakry
- Labé Regional Hospital in Labé
EngenderHealth trains surgeons and other health care professionals in fistula repair and counseling-helping to restore the lives of women suffering from the debilitating condition. The project is also assisting health care staff at five health centers in three regions of the country to assess, diagnose, and refer fistula cases to the hospitals where repair surgery is available.
At the same time, the project works to prevent fistula from occurring. EngenderHealth and its partners train health care professionals to provide high-quality comprehensive obstetric care-including monitoring labor appropriately and performing cesarean sections when needed. At the community level, "Safe Motherhood Village Committees" have been established to educate pregnant women and their families on the importance of maternal health care and to refer women who need medical care to hospitals.
To help women who have had their fistula repaired reintegrate back into the community, the project has arranged for volunteer families to host and take care of the women for a few weeks after they have received surgical repair. Their acceptance by these volunteer families helps them gain confidence and strength when returning to their own families and communities.
Prevention of Gender-Based Violence
EngenderHealth is also working to prevent and respond to gender-based violence (GBV) in Guinea. We recently concluded a project to support sexual violence survivors from the September 2009 political upheaval with medical care, psychosocial services, and social and economic reintegration.
In collaboration with the government and local nongovernmental organizations, we also built local capacity to prevent GBV (especially sexual and domestic violence) by addressing gender norms and using community-based interventions.
Finally, EngenderHealth sought to improve the Guinean health sector’s response to sexual violence by training providers to identify and treat survivors in the Conakry, Kissidougou, and Labe regions.
As a follow-on activity, EngenderHealth is working to integrate GBV services into existing family planning services. Supported by the gender team at the U.S. Agency for International Development, the project is developing a training curriculum for family planning providers and staff to deepen their understanding of GBV, gender norms, and ways to provide better reproductive health care.