Posts Tagged ‘Senegal’

Collaborations in Public Health: International Day to End Obstetric Fistula

May 23 is the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, inaugurated by the United Nations in 2013. This day promotes awareness of obstetric fistula, a preventable condition that disproportionately affects women and girls in developing countries. An obstetric fistula is a hole in the birth canal that is caused by prolonged labor with no medical intervention. In addition to the excruciating pain of the injury itself, women suffering from this condition are left incontinent and often experience shame and isolation from their families and communities due to the social stigma surrounding their inability to control urination and bowel movements. In 2003, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) launched the Campaign to End Fistula, an initiative aimed to increase public action towards treatment and prevention.

Several members of the Hilton Prize Coalition have dedicated programs to eradicate obstetric fistula, and collaboration is a key element in their designs. One such organization is Tostan. Working in six countries in Western Africa, Tostan was awarded the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize in 2007. Tostan’s work focuses on the empowerment of women and girls, child protection and political and economic development. Their community engagement model operates as non-formal education that facilitates community-led development and social progress initiatives.

The organization maintains partnerships alongside local communities, religious leaders and health specialists in the region, having engaged in projects with The Fistula Foundation to provide medical care, including surgery and emotional support to women suffering from obstetric fistula in rural communities. Within the Coalition, Tostan collaborated alongside Hilton Prize Coalition members Amref and Handicap International in Senegal in 2014. The three organizations implemented the Zero Fistula Project, a holistic approach to effectively tackle the issue of obstetric fistula that involved collaboration between hospitals, governmental agencies, and other NGOs in the region. Through this partnership, Tostan reported, more than 600 women were healed and were able to take back their lives.

In Fall 2016, a Hilton Prize Coalition Collaborative Fellow will work alongside Tostan and Coalition member Operation Smile in Senegal for three months, focusing on social reintegration programs for women who have suffered from obstetric fistula. The Fellow will also participate in trainings to replicate this model for Operation Smile’s programs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Collaborations in public health projects are vital to the development and humanitarian sectors. Obstetric fistula is a cross-cutting issue that intersects health care and early and child marriage, among others. The collaborative work of these Hilton Prize Coalition organizations to provide treatment and education is raising awareness of the issue at a local level, which will in turn eradicate the condition on a larger scale.


(Participants of the 2014 UNFPA Zero Fistula Project; Photo Credit Mathilde Demassiet)

Read Tostan’s latest blog post, “Nothing to Hide: Aissatou Mane’s Path to Fistula Recovery”

Tostan, AMREF, and Handicap International join efforts to end fistula through new Laureates Collaborative Future Leaders Program

This blog was cross-posted from Tostan.

Today, the Hilton Prize Laureates Collaborative is launching a new program that gives early career professionals and promising students the opportunity to work alongside Laureates of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize on key development, human rights, and public health issues. Tostan and fellow laureates AMREF and Handicap International are partnering together to host the first placement of the Laureates Collaborative Future Leaders program in Senegal.

tostanIn this new partnership, the Laureates Collaborative Associate will support planning, development, and implementation of a joint obstetric fistula program being led by Tostan, AMREF, and Handicap International. Each organization has already undertaken efforts to address the challenges women face who live with fistula. Tostan recently conducted a baseline study around fistula with a grant from The Fistula Foundation and identified women with fistula in the Kolda region, with further project plans to support social reintegration. AMREF provides medical consultations and surgeries to reverse the effects of fistula. And Handicap International works on prevention and rehabilitation of women affected by this medical complication. By partnering together, these three organizations, with the aid of the new Laureates Collaborative Associate, will be able to amplify their work and impact in the areas of fistula prevention and rehabilitation in Senegal.

The Future Leaders program will provide participants with dynamic opportunities in the field and at organizations’ headquarters that will shape their understanding and contributions to the development sector. Laureates Collaborative General Secretary David R. Curry shared, “We are confident that in the years ahead, young professionals who have served as Laureates Collaborative Associates will be recognized as a cadre of high-potential, diverse young leaders, who are making significant early-career contributions to their organizations and to the field overall.”

Curry also shared how this new program aims to help young professionals and students overcome some of the challenges they face when building their early career, namely limited opportunities to fill high- impact roles in the field. Curry stated: “We intend that our Future Leaders Program will help address this challenge.”

Beyond contributing to the development of dynamic young professionals and students, this new partnership between the Hilton Prize Laureates Collaborative, Tostan, AMREF, and Handicap International will positively impact the health and wellbeing of women with fistula in Senegal.

The Future Leaders program expects to place additional Associates in Senegal in 2014 to support other joint Hilton Laureate programs now being explored. Also, pilot programs underway in Haiti and Nepal will see their first Associate placements later this year.

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