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Ugo's Story: Healthy Mothers, Stronger Communities

Ugo was almost without hope at the time that she developed obstetric fistula: Caused by obstructed labor, this devastating but preventable childbirth injury causes a woman to leak urine and/or feces continuously. Two of her five children had died, and her parents had passed away. When Ugo was ready to deliver for the sixth time, her husband, Okoude, was away, looking for work as a driver. After the labor pains began, she locked herself inside her house and labored alone for days. Ugo finally delivered a baby, but the pressure from the baby’s head during Ugo’s prolonged labor caused a fistula.

Ugo and Okoude live in Ebonyi State in southeastern Nigeria. While Ugo was silently struggling with fistula, the wife of the Ebonyi State governor began to advocate for surgical fistula repair services to be made available. The First Lady launched a governmental initiative, constructed a fistula repair center, and brought together partners, including EngenderHealth, to support the costs of providing surgeries. EngenderHealth trained surgeons, anesthetists, nurses, and other staff and participated in research designed to improve the quality of care. When all was ready, she organized screening campaigns to identify women living with fistula and to let them know that their condition could be repaired. Okoude heard that the screening was happening, and he and Ugo rushed to be included. Hundreds of women were there, and Ugo says she was lucky to be screened. Her recto-vaginal fistula could be repaired.

Ugo waited three months before she received a phone call that surgeons were available to repair her fistula. She was fully repaired, and Ugo later had a healthy baby named Martin, after the governor. Ugo prays daily for the First Lady, grateful for her repair surgery and hopeful for the future.

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