From January 26 to February 6, 2019, Dr. Saifuddin Mama, Cooper Division Head of Urogynecology, and Dr. Michelle Schroeder, Urogynecology Fellow, traveled to Kibagabaga Hospital in Kigali, Rwanda for a mission trip to provide fistula care with International Organization for Women and Development (IOWD). They were joined by Urogynecologists and Fellows from Brown University, University of New Mexico, and Medstar Health, and an Anesthesia team from Temple University. Two local OBGYN residents and several medical students from University of Rwanda also participated in patient care.
Obstetric fistula is an abnormal opening between the woman’s genital tract and her urinary tract or rectum. The development of obstetric fistula is directly related to obstructed labor and inability to access delivery through cesarean section. Women who experience fistula suffer from constant urinary or bowel leakage, shame and social segregation. An estimated 2 million women live with untreated obstetric fistula in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
IOWD is a non-profit, charity dedicated to providing underserved women and children in low-income countries with free, specialized surgery care. Their mission is to provide free treatment and care to women and girls suffering from obstetric fistula, and gynecologic and pelvic floor disorders. Since its inception, IOWD has carried out over 40 missions and operated on more than 2200 patients.
During the February IOWD mission, a total of 82 patients were evaluated. Surgeons performed 14 rectovaginal fistula repairs, 14 vesicovaginal fistula repairs, along with several other complex procedures including ureteral reimplantations, prolapse repair, and repair of congenital anomalies. Fellows and attendings also provided educational lecture sessions for the Rwandan residents and students.
Dr Mama travels yearly with IOWD and this is the first trip for Dr Schroeder with this organization. In the future, this will be a yearly experience for Dr Mama and a Urogynecology fellow.