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Zambia

Fistula Foundation's treatment network in Zambia is connecting more women than ever before with life-transforming surgery.

Progress Update  Rainy season in Zambia increases challenge of reaching women in need   Watch video

Why We Work in Zambia

Zambia is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. While economic indicators have improved over the past decade, unemployment remains a serious problem in Zambia. 

People in rural areas of the country face particular hardship, with the vast majority living in extreme poverty and lacking access to basic health care. Only half of the women in rural areas deliver with a skilled birth attendant—leading to high rates of maternal mortality and childbirth injury, such as obstetric fistula.

Before the launch of Fistula Foundation’s treatment network in 2017, there were only four trained fistula surgeons in the entire country, severely constraining women’s access to timely, fistula care.

What You Help Us Do

Fistula Foundation has worked with partners in Zambia to provide life-transforming surgery since 2012.

In 2017, with support from Johnson & Johnson, we launched a new countrywide treatment network to build Zambia’s long-term capacity for fistula care. We believe this network-of-care model represents the path forward to ending fistula within a generation. Learn more about our plan to end fistula

Since the network’s launch, it has achieved tremendous results: 

  • 1,228 fistula surgeries provided at seven hospitals
  • 3 surgeons and 46 nurses trained in fistula management
  • 688 community health volunteers trained 
  • 57 midwives trained on fistula identification and prevention efforts
  • 2,165 local leaders sensitized on fistula 
  • 8,683 outreach visits carried out in 32 districts 
  • Over 735,000 people reached through radio programs and advertisements

Meet Our Partners

In partnership with Zambia’s Ministry of Health and provincial and district health offices, Fistula Foundation is supporting fistula treatment to women across Zambia at the following hospitals. Periodic fistula surgical outreach camps have been conducted at Lewanika General Hospital and Mbala General Hospital.

Who are our current partners?
  • Chilenje Level 1 Hospital
    • Location: Lusaka
    • Partner Since: 2019
  • Chilonga Mission Hospital
    • Location: Chilonga
    • Partner Since: 2015
  • Mansa General Hospital
    • Location: Mansa
    • Partner Since: 2017
  • Mbala General Hospital
    • Location: Mbala
    • Partner Since: 2018
  • Monze Mission Hospital
    • Location: Monze
    • Partner Since: 2017
  • Kabwe General Hospital
    • Location: Kabwe
    • Partner Since: 2016
  • St. Francis Mission Hospital
    • Location: Katete
    • Partner Since: 2013

 

Who are our past partners?
  • CIDRZ Foundation
    • Location: Chipata, Chitokoloki, Mansa, Mongu, Monze, and Mpika
    • Partner In: 2012 – 2014
  • Family Life Office of Mpika Diocese
    • Location: Mpika
    • Partner In: 2015
How much funding have we granted?

 

Below are funding totals since the start of each partnership.

Current Partners:

  • Kabwe General Hospital: $10,000, additional support through Treatment Network
  • St. Francis Mission Hospital: $104,211, additional support through Treatment Network
  • Zambia Treatment Network: $1,273,102
    • Since 2017, these funds have been used to support all hospitals in the treatment network, as well as community outreach and mobilization, fistula surgeon and health provider training, and to maintain our Zambia field office.

Past Partners:

  • CIDRZ Foundation: $113,022.94
  • Family Life Office of Mpika Diocese: $8,365

News from the Field

Update: Rainy Season in Zambia  •  February 18, 2020
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Despite a heavy rainy season, our amazing Zambia team is going the extra mile to reach women in need. This video shows a washed-out bridge the team encountered this February...

Despite a heavy rainy season, our amazing Zambia team is going the extra mile to reach women in need. This video shows a washed-out bridge the team encountered this February on the road from Chama District back to Lundazi in eastern Zambia. The team had to detour, crossing into Malawi, in order to make it back home safely. The journey took them 12 hours.

While in Chama, they were able to check on six women who had been identified by a Community Health Volunteer as potential fistula patients. The women have been scheduled for surgery at our new program at St. Francis Katete Hospital in Zambia’s Eastern Province opening this March.

 

Meet Mailess from Zambia  •  April 06, 2021
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After Mailess Luo endured many hours of wrenching, complicated labor at home, she knew that she needed to see a doctor. However, the nearest health facility was many miles away,...
After Mailess Luo endured many hours of wrenching, complicated labor at home, she knew that she needed to see a doctor. However, the nearest health facility was many miles away, across harsh wilderness roads. In desperation, Mailess and her companions set out on foot. However, they were forced to wait for three hours to avoid a pride of lions they encountered along the way, feeding on an antelope carcass. In the end, Mailess had to travel to three different facilities before she found a doctor who could help her. By that point, it was too late. Her baby was stillborn, and she began to leak urine. Tragically, Mailess’s troubles were just beginning. No doctor was able to cure her incontinence. Her husband divorced her, convinced that she would never be healed. “I lost all hope I had for healing from this problem,” she said. After ten years of living with obstetric fistula, Mailess finally received a phone call from her brother that changed her life. The hospital where her brother worked—St. Francis Hospital—had just joined Fistula Foundation’s countrywide treatment network. He had seen it with his own eyes: women with her exact symptoms were being healed, thanks to highly trained doctors and nurses. Mailess could finally get the care she needed! Mailess’s fistula was complex, requiring multiple operations to correct. She recently received her final procedure at St. Francis Hospital—and for the first time in a decade, she is finally dry! Published 4/6/21
Your Gifts at Work: 21 Women Healed in Zambia!  •  April 06, 2021
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Thanks to support from donors like you, 21 Zambian women recently received life-changing fistula surgery! They were healed at St. Francis Hospital, Fistula Foundation’s partner facility in the eastern city...
Thanks to support from donors like you, 21 Zambian women recently received life-changing fistula surgery! They were healed at St. Francis Hospital, Fistula Foundation’s partner facility in the eastern city of Katete. In March 2020, Fistula Foundation welcomed St. Francis Hospital into our countrywide treatment network and expanded our partnership with the Zambian Ministry of Health. This was only weeks before Covid-19 forced a nationwide lockdown in Zambia— but thankfully, after the initial shockwave of the pandemic passed, our teams were able to resume fistula treatment in the fall. St. Francis Hospital has been a lifeline to Zambian women in the country’s Eastern Province and beyond. This area suffers a high maternal mortality rate, and government stakeholders believe that there are many women with untreated fistula in need of care. Thanks to supporters like you, Fistula Foundation’s team in Zambia can once again provide transformative fistula repair surgeries to women in need, even amidst the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Thank you for making a difference! This story originally appeared in the Spring 2021 edition of our newsletter, Transformations.
Field Notes - Zambia: A Journey I'll Never Forget  •  October 31, 2018
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I can’t believe my three weeks in Zambia have come and gone. I’m writing this post from Chicago, waiting to return to my hometown of Tulsa and replaying everything in...
I can’t believe my three weeks in Zambia have come and gone. I’m writing this post from Chicago, waiting to return to my hometown of Tulsa and replaying everything in my mind. It’s bringing up a cadre of emotions. First, anger. It’s 2018 and this ailment shouldn't be affecting anyone, let along the numbers it does in Zambia.

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