Obstetric fistula happens most frequently in rural areas, where emergency medical care is not easily accessible. A woman’s risk of developing fistula is also exacerbated by cultural misunderstanding about doctors and surgery. Madagascar faces both of these challenges: its infrastructure is poor, which can make travel to the hospital complicated and dangerous. Also, there is…
With a tube down her nose to her stomach, Lucie was unable to talk. Her sister, Elysa, relayed this story on her behalf.
On February 25, 2009, Lucie went in to labor. On the third day she passed out from exhaustion, and on the fourth day, her lifeless baby was delivered by C-section. For the next three months, she was hospitalized. In and out of hospitals for the next several months, her doctors finally told her there was no more they could do to ease her suffering; she needed to go to Antananarivo, the capital city, to find help. But her family had already sold all three of their cows and there was no more money to pay hospital fees. For the next seven years, she was in immense pain, lying down for five or six days at a time to gain the strength to walk for two or three.
In 2014, she gave birth again, this time developing an obstetric fistula in the process. Her baby survived, but died one month after birth. Her husband decided to leave.
Lucie’s personality changed completely. Prior to losing her child and developing fistula, she was talkative and had many friends. But after the fistula, she became incredibly shy and withdrawn. The village found out about her condition. She tried to take her own life on several occasions.
One day, Lucie and her family learned about SALFA. A Catholic nun told them about a local doctor spreading the word about free fistula treatment available in Morondava, through SALFA. She was overjoyed: this was the first time in years that she was told she could be healed.
With her sister at her side, Lucie finally received the help she had been waiting for for years. SALFA was able to heal her fistula, and they were able to remove a bladder stone the size of two golf balls – the source of her pain for so long.
She is worried about how she will pay for the bladder stone removal, which will cost roughly $80 USD, but grateful for her restored health and new chance at life.
- Population: 24,430,325
- Average Births per Woman: 4.12
- Female Literacy: 62.6%
- Population Living in Poverty: 75.3% (less than $1.25/day)