Towards a Fistula-Free Generation
As many as 3,000 Tanzanian women develop obstetric fistula each year, a condition that leaves them incontinent, leaking urine and/or faeces uncontrollably. As a result, they are often excluded from their families and communities.
Obstetric fistula is a childbirth injury caused by prolonged, obstructed labour. It occurs when pressure from the baby’s head compresses the mother’s soft tissue in the birth canal, which obstructs blood flow. Without blood, the tissues die and a hole forms between the bladder and the vagina or the rectum and the vagina.
To help remove barriers to treatment, CCBRT covers the cost of all obstetric fistula patients’ treatment, accommodation, and meals throughout their course of care. CCBRT also supports 6 partner hospitals in Tanzania to provide treatment, making fistula care more accessible for all Tanzanian women. In 2016, CCBRT and its partner facilities performed 1,012 fistula surgeries.
Using M-PESA, a mobile money transfer system, we send the cost of transport to patients or their caregivers via a network of trained ambassadors. In the first year that M-PESA was introduced into our referral system, we saw a 65% increase in the number of women treated for obstetric fistula. In 2016, 87% of obstetric fistula patients were referred via M-PESA.
The Mabinti Centre ('mabinti' means 'girls' in Swahili) trains women recovering from fistula surgery in screen-printing, sewing, beading, and crochet. During a yearlong course, the trainees develop the knowledge and skills they need to establish small businesses and become financially independent. At the end of the year each graduate is awarded a sewing machine, scissors, a supply of fabric, and a calculator.
After their training Mabinti women are ready to start their own business. Follow up support in the form of home visits and coaching sessions is provided by Mabinti staff for one year after graduation.
Since its founding in 2007, the Mabinti Centre has trained 100 women-- many of whom still work at the centre, further honing their skills and receiving a sustainable income on the production line. Mabinti Centre designs have showed at Swahili Fashion Week, where they were nominated as Accessory Designs of the Year in 2016 and awarded Humanitarian of the Year in 2015.