It’s all about the women!

It’s all about the women!  Support for Togolese Women from a Myriad of Partners

One of the greatest pleasures of my work as director of the FC+ project is to recognize that amidst so many world challenges, there are individuals and groups who care deeply about women, their reproductive health, and their future.  In this very competitive world, they recognize that women are their future and that collaboration and partnership is the way to ensure that future. Today as I write this message, Dr. Kindy Diallo, an eminent and highly skilled surgeon from Guinea, a country racked by Ebola in some parts, is in Sokodé, Togo working in partnership with Togolese surgeons, providing life-changing surgery to 100 women with obstetric fistula.

How did this come about?  Communities in Togo had been informed that fistula surgeries would be available in Sokodé at the beginning of December.  Unfortunately, Dr. Dolorés Nembunzu, the very dedicated surgeon from Kinshasa who had conducted a similar campaign in collaboration with Togolese surgeons in October, was unable to participate because of her own very busy schedule.  UNFPA, the organizers of the campaign, asked EngenderHealth, through its AgirPF and Fistula Care Plus projects, both supported by the USAID West Africa Mission, if we could identify a competent surgeon to assist at short notice.  (We had previously collaborated on an assessment of access to fistula services in Togo.)  We communicated with our colleagues in Guinea and at the Geneva Foundation for Medical Research (GFMER) to identify one or two surgeons who might be able to assist.  The GFMER colleague tried very hard to do this, but the timing was so short – really only one week’s notice.  Dr. Diallo was able to free himself and with USAID/West Africa Mission support and coordination through EngenderHealth, arrived in Togo on December 2 and began operating on December 3 and will continue until December 17.  Fistula surgery is not simple and it takes time to develop the skill to address the more complex cases.  Yesterday one of the cases took four hours to complete.  The costs of the surgeries are being borne by the Ministry of Health in Togo and by UNFPA.

Togo photo

Five institutions and at least ten individuals had to coordinate and collaborate in a very short space of time to make this happen.

  • Kindy Diallo, Guinea, Dr. Dolorés Nembunzu, D.R. Congo, and Dr. Kpatcha, Togo
  • Togo’s Ministry of Health and the Director and Staff at Sokodé Hospital
  • USAID/West Africa Mission and USAID/Washington
  • EngenderHealth (through AgirPF and Fistula Care Plus)
  • Solidarite Sante et Developpement (SSD) Belgium

These individuals and institutions deserve our recognition and we know that at least 100 women will have their lives transformed as a consequence.  Whatever you celebrate at this time of year, this is something to be thankful for.