A new program in Sierra Leon, established by the Gloag Foundation, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and Airtel, enables women to call a toll-free number and speak with nurses to determine whether they are eligible to receive treatment for fistulas. Since the hotline was launched in October, 119 women have undergone treatment, with an 85 percent rate of success.
Ann Gloag of the Gloag Foundation stated, "This approach might be very effective to recruit fistula patients-always a challenge considering the stigma associated with the condition-and, perhaps, a useful approach in other countries as well."
Sia Koroma, first lady of Sierra Leon remarked, "Most of the women living with fistula are uneducated. They live in the countryside with little or no access to health facilities, ante-natal or post-natal care. The situation is particularly difficult for girls, who are not physically mature and are especially vulnerable to complications in childbirth." Obstetric fistula primarily affects girls ages 15-19. Approximately one in eight pregnant in Sierra Leon develop a fistula.
The UNFPA describes obstetric fistula as an injury to the pelvic organs that most often occurs when a young woman undergoes long and obstructed labor, sometimes for as long as 5 days. Often, the woman cannot reach or afford the necessary medical care, which then causes her to suffer extensive tissue damage that eventually leads to the death of the baby. Another problem associated with obstetric fistula is that the injury also causes women to lose control of their bowels and bladder unless treated appropriately.
Media Resources: UNFPA 12/12/11; Feminist Daily Newswire 2/13/04
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .