As the final board meeting of 2013 came to a close last month, Fistula Foundation thanked Board Chair Kassahun Kebede for his eight years of leadership, and welcomed Dr. Sohier Elneil into the Board Chair role. Dr. Elneil has big shoes to fill, but her extensive medical background, global reputation as a leader in the treatment of obstetric fistula and her engaging personal style will make her a strong chairperson.
Dr. Elneil currently serves as a consultant in urogynaecology and uroneurology at the University College London Hospital and the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery. Her leadership in the fistula community extends to various committees includingt the International Continence Society, where she serves as chair, and the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), for which she authored and edited the organization’s – and world’s – first Global Competency-Based Training Manual. The manual is a groundbreaking tool that is revolutionizing the fistula treatment landscape by standardizing fistula surgeon training and ensuring a high quality of patient care.
Dr. Elneil grew up in Africa, where she became passionate about women’s health at a young age. After a surgical internship in Ethiopia where she treated patients who suffered from vescio-vaginal fistulas and female genital cutting, Dr. Elneil was inspired to dedicate her life to the treatment of women’s reproductive health issues.
“I was amazed that somebody can live [with fistula] for so many years and lose everything in their life, yet it took forty minutes to put them back together again,” said Dr. Elneil, adding, “I had to be involved. Being from Africa myself, I felt it was my duty.”
Dr. Elneil realizes that the problem of obstetric fistula cannot be solved by individuals. By being a part of committees and organizations, Dr. Elneil hopes she can contribute to the international effort to end the suffering caused by obstetric fistula.
“Fistula Foundation plays an important role on the global scale,” said Dr. Elneil, “I’m proud to be part of such an organization and I hope to help move the organization forward in a positive way.”
This article originally appeared in Fistula Foundation’s Fall 2013 newsletter. Click here to view the entire newsletter.