For decades, Nigeria has been the most populous country in Africa. Today there are approximately 177 million people living there. Nigeria also has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, with as many as 630 out of 100,000 births ending in death for the mother. It is against this backdrop of need that Dr. Steve Arrowsmith, Fistula Foundation’s new Medical and Program Director, initiated fistula work in 1990, and helped create the Evangel Vescio-Vaginal Fistula Center (Evangel VVF Center) in 1992, as a ward entirely devoted to fistula within the larger hospital.
At the time Dr. Arrowsmith left the center in 1993, about 100 cases a year were being treated. Since then, the program has grown steadily; last year, the center performed 365 fistula repair surgeries. And, importantly, the Center has successfully made the critical transition from being led by expatriate staff, to having strong and dedicated local leadership. The facility contains a 40-bed ward, a large outpatient facility and hostel space.
In the wake of the global financial downturn in 2009-10, the hospital lost crucial funding from two large outside funders. Fistula Foundation was able to provide critical support in 2011, and according to Dr. Lengmang, it was Fistula Foundation funding that is the sole reason the Center is alive and operating today. Last year, a very special Foundation donor stepped in to fund Evangel’s operations for two years. While this wonderful woman chooses to stay anonymous, we are tremendously grateful, as is the team at Evangel VVF, for her selfless generosity and deeply caring heart.
Read this article and more in Fistula Foundation’s spring 2014 newsletter.