Today as the world celebrates International Women's Day, I wanted to take a moment to introduce you to three incredible women that Fistula Foundation is fortunate to work with, who have dedicated their lives to helping women who suffer from the devastating childbirth injury obstetric fistula.
Habiba Corodhia Mohamed
Outreach Manager, Action on Fistula
Many women who suffer from fistula live in the shadows, hiding their condition out of shame, perhaps not even knowing treatment is available. But Habiba Corodhia Mohamed always finds a way to bring the condition, and these women, into the light.
Habiba is the founder of WADADIA, a community-based organization in western Kenya that provides psycho-social support, economic empowerment and reproductive health to women in need. She also serves as outreach manager for Fistula Foundation's Action on Fistula program, a three-year initiative to transform the fistula treatment landscape in Kenya. Generously funded by Astellas Pharma EMEA, Action on Fistula has already delivered free, life-changing fistula surgeries to 912 women to date - in large part due to the tireless work of Habiba and her team, which travels to some of the most remote corners of Kenya to educate communities about obstetric fistula and help find and refer patients for treatment.
Edna Adan University Hospital
Edna Adan is a woman of many firsts: the first woman in Somalia to drive a car, the country's first female qualified midwife, and the first lady of Somaliland after a marriage to the prime minister. Her career led her to the top post with the World Health Organization, where she stayed until retirement. Then, she cashed in her pension and her life savings to fulfill a lifelong dream of opening a hospital that could address health problems facing women and children in the Horn of Africa, which suffers one of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the world.
Life in this part of the world can be extremely difficult for women, who face cultural expectations for bearing a large number of children even if it means their own health is put at risk. Here, a woman must seek permission from a male family member - even their son or a grandson - before leaving the house for any reason at all, even a life-threatening medical emergency.
But thanks to Edna Adan, women have more access to health care than they ever had before, and Fistula Foundation is proud to have funded fistula treatment at her facility, Edna Adan University Hospital, since 2009. Edna's hospital is one of the largest buildings in Somaliland's capital city, Hargeisa. Its medical reputation is so stellar, it has become the "go to" facility in the region for UN and other development workers. Edna runs training programs, not just for midwives and nurses, but also for lab techs and pharmacists and anesthetists, creating the human resource capacity in health that Somaliland needs.
Dr. Mulu Muleta
Women and Health Alliance International
Dr. Mulu Muleta was born and raised in the village of Abebe, in Ethiopia, one of seven children. When she was a teenager, her mother was badly injured in a car crash. Inspired by the dedicated hospital staff who nursed her mother back to health, Mulu decided to enroll in medical school. Upon graduation, she held the distinction of having become one of the country's first female Ethiopian-trained obstetrician-gynecologists. She went on to work at Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa where she learned to treat obstetric fistula. Today, I can tell you without hesitation that she is one of the finest fistula surgeons in this world.
While she could have taken her talents anywhere, Mulu chose to stay in Ethiopia to help deliver life-changing care to women in her own country. Based in Addis Ababa, she serves as Senior Medical Advisor for a long-term Fistula Foundation partner, Women and Health Alliance International (WAHA). In her role with WAHA, Mulu performs fistula surgery at various teaching hospitals in Ethiopia, but she also spends her time training the next generation of African surgeons to build their skills in treating complex cases of fistula.
But I cannot do her full story justice. For that, I will direct you to a brilliant article about Mulu that appeared in Newsweek.
Dr. Mulu Muleta And The Afterbirth Miracle
These three women have dedicated their lives to helping other women get the medical care they need and deserve. I am proud to call them partners, and I can think of no more fitting way to mark International Women's Day than by sharing their stories with you. I hope you will share the link to this post to help spread the word, so more people can "meet" these three remarkable women!
Kate Grant is CEO of Fistula Foundation, which works to provide treatment for obstetric fistula in more than 20 countries in Africa and Asia. Follow the organization on Facebook, or @Fistula_Fdtn on Twitter.