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Why Do We Work in Malawi?

Malawi is a narrow, landlocked nation in southeast Africa. Despite high rates of prenatal care and births attended by skilled personnel, the maternal mortality rate remains alarmingly high. The country also has a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, which diverts already limited health care resources and adversely affects efforts to improve maternal health. Given these factors, along with a high fertility rate, low female literacy rate, and practices such as early marriage, it is estimated that Malawi has a significant backlog of women suffering from obstetric fistula in addition to the new cases that occur each year.

What You Help Us Do In Malawi

We’re helping fund:

  • Fistula surgeries
  • Surgeon training
  • Community outreach


Fistula Care Center at Bwaila Hospital, Lilongwe

How much funding have we granted?

Freedom From Fistula Foundation

$362,376 in FY2016
$267,700 in FY2015

Child Legacy International

$49,588 in FY2014

Operation Fistula

$99,500 in FY2012 (divided between projects in Malawi, Madagascar, and Mauritania)

Who is our partner?

In the past, we have provided grant support to the Fistula Care Center at Bwaila Hospital in Lilongwe through Freedom From Fistula Foundation.

Previously, we provided grant support to McGuire Wellness Center through Child Legacy International. We also provided grant support to Nkhoma Mission Hospital, Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Zomba Central Hospital, Chikwawa District Hospital, Kasungu District Hospital, and Mangochi District Hospital through Operation Fistula.

How will this help women in Malawi?

Freedom From Fistula Foundation established the Fistula Care Center at Blaiwa Hospital in 2010, a facility which has since garnered a reputation for being the gold standard of fistula care in Malawi. This partnership increased the capacity of the hospital to treat even more women. Funding from Fistula Foundation helped increase the number of patients treated from 250 to 300+, train two new full-time surgeons as well as an additional anesthesiologist and other support staff, expand outreach and patient recruitment efforts, and support continued reintegration programming for recovering patients.

For the past 20 years, Child Legacy International (CLI) has been working in Africa to transform lives by providing opportunities that break the generational cycle of poverty and despair. In Malawi, CLI built a rural hospital that is solely powered by renewable energy (solar and wind) that they hope to replicate throughout sub-Saharan Africa where no connections exist to the national power grid or to piped water. In Malawi, CLI is working with the government of Malawi through the Ministry of Health to provide health services in rural Lilongwe district. Funding from Fistula Foundation will support community outreach and patient recruitment in 68 villages, fistula repair surgery and care for 104 women, and fistula training and mentorship to seven clinical officers and 10 nurses, in addition to developing a lasting and comprehensive training curriculum that can be utilized in the future.

Through our partner Operation Fistula, Fistula Foundation funded a series of small grants to surgeons in hospitals and health centers throughout Malawi. These grants were used to provide free fistula repair surgeries and build surgeon capacity. Not only were more women able to access treatment, but the overall surgical success rate in this project compared to years past was significantly improved.

Where is Malawi?

Facts About Malawi

  • Population:18,570,321
  • Average births per woman:5.54
  • Physicians per 10,000 people:0.2
  • Births attended by skilled personnel:87.4%
  • Lifetime risk of maternal death:1 in 29(chances a woman will die during childbirth)
  • Female life expectancy:63.2 years
  • Female literacy:58.6%
  • Population living in rural areas:83.7%
  • Population living in poverty:54.2%(less than $1.25/day)
  • Surgeries completed through Fistula Foundation funding to date:290

Sources: CIA World Fact Book; WHO, World Bank.

We’re Making a Difference in Malawi

Field Notes: Follow Bill in Africa

Fistula Foundation Board Chair Bill Mann has been passionate about delivering life-changing care to women suffering from obstetric fistula since his first visit to the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in 2011. This January, he had a little time to fill, so he booked a plane ticket to visit Fistula Foundation partners in Malawi, Kenya, Madagascar…