Benin, situated on the West African coast, has a large youth population. Early marriage for girls is common, with many girls marrying before the age of 19. Women have lower socio-economic status than men, little opportunity to earn a living, and limited access to health care. As a result, women and girls in Benin suffer extremely high rates of maternal injury and death.
The main focus of EngenderHealth’s work in Benin was to address fistula, a vaginal injury usually sustained during prolonged childbirth. Through the Fistula Care Project, EngenderHealth partnered with Mercy Ships International, which operates a floating hospital called Africa Mercy that moors at ports across West Africa, including Cotonou, Benin.
In Benin, the Africa Mercy provided repair surgery to women suffering from fistula, who were referred by local organizations to seek treatment on board the ship. In addition to repairing women with fistula, the project also helped provide training for fistula surgeons across Africa.
Fistula Care also worked with local organizations to promote safe motherhood practices, including offering vouchers for cesarean sections to women who have successfully healed from fistula and become pregnant again.