Astellas Pharma
About 75 percent of women with obstetric fistula have gone through labor that has lasted three days or more. Obstetric fistula affects mostly the poorest women who live in the poorest countries of the world because they do not have access to proper medical help. When a woman’s labor is obstructed she most likely could have intense pain for days before she actually has the baby.

So what exactly is an obstetric fistula?

“The soft tissues between the baby’s head and the pelvic bone are compressed and do not receive adequate blood flow … Her baby likely dies and she is often left with obstetric fistula, a small hole created by constant pressure from the fetus, which renders her incontinent.”

An estimated one million women get obstetric fistula and only 20,000 of those get treated a year. The surgery that these women would need takes under an hour and costs around $450. The need is there for these women to receive medical help and that is why Astellas Pharma EMEA decided to dedicate $2 million to help the cause.

Over the course of three years, Astellas will be partnered with the Fistula Foundation and put that $2 million to work. This is believed to be the largest and most focused effort ever against fistula according to Kate Grant, CEO of the Fistula Foundation.

The money will allow 1,200 women to get surgery in Kenya for this life-changing condition. As part of Astellas heritage, one of the key things that this organization wants to bring to communities is hope.

“Astellas knows the difference good medicines make to peoples’ lives. That‘s why we focus on providing treatments that are a genuine advance on the current standards of care – particularly in disease areas where options are limited.”

Here in the United States, the obstetric fistula was a common term that most people knew about, until the early 20th century. Since the U.S. has the resources for great medical care, there are procedures like a cesarean section, that we can use to prevent fistula. Kenya doesn’t have what the U.S. does, so companies like Fistula Foundation and Astellas are doing something about it.

– Brooke Smith

Sources: ONE, Astellas, Fistula Foundaiton
Photo: Flickr

Obstetric fistulas are an all too common health risk for pregnant women in poor countries who lack access to adequate healthcare. For millions of women in poor, rural communities with little or no access to health services, pregnancy carries a high level of risk.

An obstetric fistula is a hole or passageway between the birth canal and the excretory system, caused by prolonged, obstructed labor without access to proper medical care or a skilled birth attendant. Often fistulas can resort in the death of the baby, and lasting injury for the mother. The fistula causes an almost constant leak of bodily excretions of urine and/or feces, causing major discomfort. In addition to making it very difficult for a woman to carry out her day-to-day work, the condition can result in a woman being ostracized and stigmatized by those around her because of the foul smell she may carry and her inability to conceive again.

Fistulas are dangerous, but they are also both preventable and treatable. According to the Fistula Foundation, obstetric fistula is “the most devastating and serious of all childbirth injuries,” and it occurs because mothers in poor countries must give birth without medical help. Complications from pregnancy and childbirth continue to be among the leading causes of death and disability for women of childbearing age in poor countries.

Obstetric fistulas were largely eliminated in the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th centuries through improvements in obstetric care and the use of cesarean sections. The first surgical repair for obstetric fistula was developed in 1852 by a doctor in the United States. Now the surgery to repair obstetric fistula costs approximately $450. An estimated 30,000 to 50,000 women a year develop obstetric fistula, according to the Fistula Foundation, but only about 14,000 of those receive treatment.

The prevalence of fistulas in spite of available prevention and treatment points to health system failures in poverty-stricken parts of the world. Good prenatal care, nutrition, the presence of a skilled birth attendant and access to emergency obstetric care can all help prevent obstetric fistulas if accessible to women.

May 23, 2013 was the first International Day to End Obstetric Fistula. More international companies and organizations have begun paying attention to the problem of fistula. Johnson & Johnson in particular has been involved in supporting women suffering from obstetric fistula for more than 20 years through its subsidiary companies, and it recently stepped up its corporate commitment by providing medical supplies to Ethiopia.

– Liza Casabona

Source: The Fistula Foundation,The Huffington Post,Johnson & Johnson
Photo: Aheers Health