Why We Work in Mauritania
A coup led by General Aziz in 2008 overthrew Mauritania’s first democratically elected president and established military rule over the country that continues today.
The country’s tense political climate, coupled with the persistence of modern-day slavery and other human rights issues, make maternal health low on the list of government priorities. This is reflected in the country’s high maternal mortality rate and high rates of childbirth injuries, such as obstetric fistula.
The low status of women is also a contributing factor. Women’s health in Mauritania is uniquely affected by cultural standards of beauty, where obese women are considered more desirable than thin women. In the social practice of leblouh, girls are force-fed to make them more marriageable. Unmarried girls in their late teens face harsh social stigma, leading to high rates of child marriage and teenage pregnancy — both of which are risk factors for obstetric fistula.
What You Help Us Do
We are investing in the following areas to build Mauritania’s in-country medical services and provide life-transforming surgery to as many women as possible:
Meet Our Partners
We are currently partnering with Women and Health Alliance International (WAHA) to deliver fistula treatment to women in Mauritania.
Fistula treatment in Mauritania is primarily concentrated in the capital Nouakchott. Poor roads and inadequate transportation services have virtually made accessing this care impossible for women in other regions across the country.
A key focus of WAHA’s work is to develop treatment services in Gorgol, one of the most densely populated areas in the country located on the southern border with Senegal. Lacking dedicated fistula facilities and largely overlooked by past outreach efforts, the region is home to a substantial backlog of fistula patients in urgent need of care.
Mauritanian women are too often unable to access treatment because of non-negotiable surgical fees. To eliminate this barrier to treatment, Fistula Foundation funded small grants to two surgeons in Nouakchott (Mauritania’s capital city) to enable them to provide fistula repair surgeries free of charge