A New National Framework in Zambia

The Network Model Fuels Progress on Fistula Care

Zambia has a new framework—the Obstetric Fistula Strategic Plan 2022–2026—that will guide the provision of obstetric fistula care across the country. In collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Fistula Foundation supported the completion of Zambia’s first standalone plan to address the condition.

The new plan, approved on December 22, will officially launch on May 23 to commemorate the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula. It will serve as a guiding tool for healthcare providers across Zambia who work in fistula prevention, fistula treatment, and the reintegration of fistula survivors into their communities.

The plan was approved by the Zambian Ministry of Health, and developed in close coordination with the Ministry of Health and UNFPA. It marks a major milestone for the Fistula Foundation Treatment Network in Zambia. 

“We are proud to be a part of this achievement in collaboration with the Ministry of Health,” said Bwalya Chomba (pictured above with other members of Team Zambia), program director for Zambia.

Chomba noted that the plan incorporates lessons from the FFTN in Zambia’s first six years of operation, and that Fistula Foundation helped fund the final phase of its development.

The major aim of the document is to provide a reference guide to train health workers and to support them in providing integrated, respectful, affordable, evidence-based care for women with obstetric fistula. 

“This comprehensive resource will guarantee improved quality of life for these women and their families,” said Chomba.

The plan was developed in consultation with multiple stakeholders—including UNFPA, the World Health Organization, and NGOs such as the Zambia Association of Gynecologists—as well as the Zambian Ministry of Health.

“Without proper planning and organization,… the nation will continue to deal with the [current] backlog of cases… and delay management of new obstetric fistula cases,” said the Honorable Sylvia Masebo, minister of health for Zambia. “It is therefore necessary that we intensify national scale-up of [obstetric fistula] management centers—including community-based interventions—train more surgeons and other health workers to handle this backlog, and provide quality and affordable care closer to the women who are silently suffering from obstetric fistula.”

Published on May 8, 2023

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