Rebuilding Lives in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh

HOPE Hospital is a 40-bed, 24-hour hospital in the district of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

Since 2011 HOPE Foundation, has provided obstetric fistula repair surgery free of charge to the women of Cox’s Bazar. HOPE currently has two trainee fistula surgeons from Bangladesh on the FIGO Training Programme. One of these is Dr Nrinmoy and he is the only fistula provider in the southeastern region of the country.

An obstetric fistula is a neglected public health and human rights issue. A childbirth injury caused by unrelieved obstructed labour; an abnormal opening between the vagina and the bladder and/or rectum which leads to uncontrolled leaking of urine and/or faeces from the vagina.

It’s a life shattering condition affecting two million women in 55 low resource countries of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia; with up to 100,000 additional women tragically developing a fistula every year in some of the world’s poorest and most disadvantaged communities.

This year, to mark International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, FIGO has heard from three women who have undergone surgery and are now able to recover and re-build their lives:

Rokeya

“I am a 25 year old lady coming from Kutupalong union of Cox’s Bazar, wife to Abu Kalam. I have been suffering for two months and was diagnosed with a Fistula a month back in Myanmar. It made me feel shocked and ashamed. My family was very upset but didn’t know what to do. The expense was also a huge matter of concern.  I was absolutely stressed out.  Neighbours started hating me and no one would even talk to me. I got no support from my friends.

Then I got the information about HOPE Hospital and was brought to the hospital where I was provided with a free treatment and went through a surgery and am recovering now. I am very happy with the doctors, nurses and the staff of the hospital. I admit I was worried about going in to the operating theatre, but the kindness of the hospital staff made me feel comfortable. .

Now I feel my life is going to be different and I will be leading a normal life from here on with my family and friends. I will  always keep my eyes open for any other woman who needs help and guidance regarding Fistula”.

Sanzida

“I am age 30 and come from Balukhali union, Ukhia district of Cox’s Bazar. I am married to Md. Mir Ahammed. Sadly I was suffering from fistula for about two years without any help.  Everyone in the village was worried about me. My husband was helplessly watching me suffer every day, with a shadow of sorrow. Powerless to fistula, I at last had no choice but visit the UH & FWC in Palongkhali and was informed by Hope Field worker Mrs. Manwara that I could get back my normal life.

I was brought to Hope Hospital on the 6th of April, 2018, where I was given a free treatment including free stay, food and care where I recovered from a successful surgical procedure.

I am ever grateful to the doctors, nurses and staff of this institute for giving me a new life all over again. I am determined to send any such patients to only HOPE Hospital in future and promise to be an ambassador for FISTULA to make Bangladesh a Fistula free nation”.

Setara

“22 years old, I am from Kutupalong Union of Ukhia district, Cox’s Bazar. I am married to Hamid Hussain. I am also a victim of Fistula, and I have been suffering from the condition for at least one year. But now I am at HOPE Hospital and am under recovery period. I was much stressed about the matter as neighbours and family were drifting away from me. Not many hospitals have experienced doctors for fistula either. Then one day I found a promotional and awareness pamphlet of HOPE Foundation and was caught by surprise that Fistula Patients were given free treatment. I couldn’t believe my eyes and soon came to HOPE Hospital and was welcomed here with an open arm. I went through the surgery and now I am in the recovery stage. I am ever so happy and grateful and will be a proud ambassador of HOPE Foundation for any fistula patient who I meet from now on. I would even accompany them to the hospital if necessary”.

Such inspiring stories from these three women.

Collectively FIGO Fellows (trainee fistula surgeons on the FIGO Programme) have performed more than 6,560 fistula repair operations, helping thousands of women throughout 19 countries regain their lives from this devastating condition which if untreated, leaves women permanently incontinent.

However, there is an essential need for more surgeons to be trained on fistula repair and for more health facilities like HOPE Hospital to provide holistic fistula treatment services, including rehabilitation and social assistance.

If SDG3 is to be achieved, functioning maternal health services, including emergency obstetric care, must be in place.

This International Day to End Obstetric Fistula asks your leaders to invest in training the next generation of fistula surgeons in low resource countries through collaborative partnerships.

It’s time to end Obstetric Fistula and help more affected women recover and re-build their lives.