We launched fistula care services in Malawi In 2010 before opening our own, stand-alone Fistula Care Centre (FCC) in 2012, in the grounds of Bwaila Hospital in Lilongwe.
This 35 bed unit has its own dedicated operating theatre and the capacity to treat more than 400 women every year, many of whom are found through our Ambassador and community sensitisation programmes that ensure women and girls from across Malawi have access to our permanent service.
Our holistic approach to our patients encompasses a patient rehabilitation, education and empowerment programme that includes access to micro-finance, a solar project, literacy and numeracy classes, as well as lessons in arts and crafts.
In partnership with UNFPA Malawi, we also run a capacity building programme, training Clinical Officers and nurses from target districts to identify, screen and refer fistula patients. This programme also funds the training of three Clinical Officers in key districts to perform simple fistula surgeries, with all moderate and complex cases still referred to our Fistula Care Centre in Lilongwe. This is an ongoing programme that ensures continuous training and assessment of the Clinical Officers.
Our Ambassador programme has been a huge success in the last few years with more than 250 former patients or their family members acting as FFF Ambassadors in their communities, bringing almost 50% of our patients each year.
In order to help prevent fistulas from happening, FFF also funds access to maternal healthcare at two partner hospitals – Mtengowantenga Catholic Hospital and Achikondi Community Clinic. An average of 160 babies are safely delivered each month thanks to this financial support.
Additionally, with funding from Rotary International, FFF supported the training of 60 Nurse Midwife Technicians in order to help build capacity in maternal healthcare in Malawi.
2013 saw the start of a new training programme for the next generation of fistula carers to help ensure the long-term sustainability of fistula care in Malawi. Surgeons, nurses, medical officers and clinical officers were being trained at our Fistula Care Centre under the supervision of our Malawian fistula surgeon who was herself trained on the programme.