By Lindsey Pollaczek, Senior Program Director Lupaula Province, Zambia — Amidst the throngs of women and children at Kabole Health Center in northern Zambia, twenty women slowly boarded a dusty green bus with Mansa General Hospital emblazoned in white lettering on the side. As the women took their seats and waited for the bus to…
Yvonne, 36, is a mother of four from a village in Zambia’s northern Luapula Province. She developed a fistula during her first pregnancy in the year 2000, after a prolonged labor that lasted for several days.
Yvonne’s labor began around midnight, and she was first taken to a clinic where she stayed for more than 24 hours without delivering. She then was taken to several other health centers and hospitals before finally arriving at a facility that had a doctor on duty.
After receiving an episiotomy procedure and being discharged from the hospital, Yvonne noticed that she was leaking urine. She returned to the hospital and was given medication. Yet, the medication did nothing to address her condition.
Living with fistula, Yvonne was ashamed of her smell and leakage. She stopped attending social gatherings and church rallies. Her first husband abandoned her. In 2006, she remarried a man who accepted her condition.
Yvonne continued to seek medical care, and a year later, she was advised to travel to the capital city of Lusaka for treatment—over 700 miles away from her home. Bus fare was far too expensive for her to afford the trip.
In March 2017, her father heard information about fistula repair surgeries on the local community radio station. Yvonne followed up immediately and was screened over the phone. Just a few weeks later, she was given an appointment for surgery at one of Fistula Foundation’s partner hospitals, Mansa General Hospital.
Yvonne traveled with twenty other women on a 10-hour bus ride to Mansa, where she finally received treatment in May 2017. Now that she has found relief, she is feeling happy and grateful.
Yvonne’s strong desire is for Fistula Foundation to continue helping women affected by obstetric fistula and needing treatment. She knows there are still more women suffering the way she did for nearly two decades.
- Population: 15,510,711
- Average Births per Woman: 5.67
- Female Literacy: 56%
- Population Living in Poverty: 60.5% (less than $1.25/day)