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 sensitization programs 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 program that includes access to micro-finance, a solar project, literacy and numeracy classes, as well as lessons in arts and crafts.
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 is supporting the training of 60 Nurse Midwife Technicians in order to help build capacity in maternal healthcare in Malawi.
The Centre was requisitioned by Government in April 2020 for Covid-19 purposes and in December we were told of the Malawi government’s plan to integrate fistula services into the healthcare system, resulting in the closure of our Fistula Care Centre (FCC).
Unexpectedly at Christmas, and to our delight, the Ministry of Health had a change of heart and asked us to continue with our fistula services at the Fistula Care Centre, as it realised it was not in a position to integrate the service at this time.
Since then, we have been in negotiations with the Ministry and are happy to report that we have signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Health that allows our Fistula Care Centre to continue to provide fistula services for the women and girls of Malawi.
We are absolutely delighted for our staff and, more importantly, for the thousands of women and girls suffering with fistula in Malawi. It is an answer to our prayers and to those of our patients and staff.
2013 saw the start of a new training program 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 are being trained at our Fistula Care Centre under the supervision of our Malawian fistula surgeon who was herself trained on the program.