Hospital ship gives Benin women fistula hope

Obstetric fistula sufferers in Benin are seeking the surgery they need on board a hospital ship operated by an international charity.

Mercy Ships has a team of volunteers working in the West African nation, offering corrective treatment to repair the damage caused to their reproductive organs by obstructed childbirths.

The program, entitled Hope Reborn, is also providing training in medical procedures for local surgeons and nurses in a bid to find a sustainable solution to the problem of fistulae, which cause women to leak urine and faeces constantly and uncontrollably.

One former sufferer, Justine, whose fistula developed during a complicated fifth labour, said she was too ashamed to leave her home for nine years before receiving the surgery she needed.

"Every day, I was very tired, ashamed, and people laughed at me," she said.

Without the help of Mercy Ships, Justine says it would have been impossible for her to have corrective surgery – indeed one doctor asked for four times the average monthly wage to perform the procedure.

Last week, Lausi Adamu from Malawi told Inter Press Service that in order for fistula to be eradicated in Africa, governments across the continent must commit to tackling poverty.ADNFCR-2094-ID-19098590-ADNFCR