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Caring & Giving
Ending Fistula, a Debilitating Childbirth Injury
Dr. Mulu Muleta, fistula surgeon and head of program at Gondar University Hospital’s fistula treatment center in Gondar, Ethiopia with Agegnehu Adudna, a fistula patient who suffered from fistula for 20 years before getting it surgically repaired at the hospital

Johnson & Johnson has been a pioneer in investing in partners and programs that reduce the suffering and stigma of obstetric fistula.

Fistula is a debilitating injury of childbirth that results from long, obstructed labor. Without access to emergency intervention, the physical trauma of laboring for days leaves women with a hole in the birth canal, causing them to leak urine or feces uncontrollably. Untreated, the fistula leaves women permanently disabled and often socially isolated.

It is estimated that at least 2 million women worldwide live with fistula, and about 50,000 to 100,000 new cases are added annually, mostly in rural and resource-poor countries. This tragedy is both preventable and treatable. With widespread access to health care and emergency Caesarean section surgery, fistula has virtually been eliminated in industrialized countries like the United States.

The best way to prevent fistula is to ensure that expectant mothers have access to quality health care services before and during childbirth. In remote or low resource areas, skilled health care workers can identify the signs of complicated delivery, intervene to prevent fistula before and during labor, and perform surgery to repair cases of fistula that do occur.

In collaboration with partners, Johnson & Johnson is investing in proven programs and pioneering groundbreaking models to reduce the impact of fistula. Our partners, including community-based organizations, non-government organizations and UN agencies, are working in unique and innovative ways to prevent fistula through quality obstetric care, increased access to fistula repair surgery, and help to women with fistula reintegrate into their communities and regain control of their lives.

In 2011, Johnson & Johnson joined forces with The United Nations Health Four+ (H4+) to train skilled birth attendants in emergency obstetric and newborn care and bring life-saving skills into difficult to reach communities in Ethiopia and the Republic of Tanzania.

We also partner with organizations such as UNFPA, Fistula Foundation, CCBRT, Direct Relief International, One by One in Kenya, Mercy Ships, the International Society of Fistula Surgeons, Women and Health Alliance International and Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital to help women access obstetric fistula surgery services and to train more surgeons. These partnerships help underserved women living with fistula in countries including Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Eritrea, Nigeria, Angola and Ethiopia.

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