Paul Keita has been the mayor of Kissidougou, Guinea, since 2000. Kissidougou has a population of 136,430, 56% of whom are women. Given the high estimated maternal mortality in Guinea (528 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births), Mayor Keita is very concerned about the health status of Kissidougou’s population, especially its women and mothers.
Mayor Keita is highly motivated to collaborate with the Fistula Care project and has worked tirelessly to create an enabling environment for fistula treatment and prevention. Under his leadership, EngenderHealth and Fistula Care have been able to build a strong partnership with the local government of Kissidougou, and together they have implemented several innovative and effective program initiatives.
One such initiative is the Village Safe Motherhood Committees. Thanks to Mayor Keita, 127 members are currently participating in a total of 20 village committees. These members conduct outreach activities to identify and refer women living with fistula to treatment facilities, identify and refer women with pregnancy complications and obstetric emergencies, and ensure that all pregnant women in the village attend at least four antenatal care visits. In addition, they conduct community awareness-raising activities on family planning, the consequences of early marriage and female genital cutting, and the role of men as partners in health promotion and gender equity. The committees also collect, analyze, and utilize health information on pregnancies, maternal deaths, births, and women living with fistula.
Mayor Keita also worked with EngenderHealth Guinea to conceptualize and pilot test the social immersion approach in Kissidougou, which has proven to be a pertinent reintegration strategy for women living with fistula. After discharge, women who have undergone profound emotional distress due to their fistula live on a voluntary basis with a host family for two to three weeks. During the social immersion period, the mayor has taken the initiative to conduct field visits, thank host families, and cover the initiative on the local radio. Fistula survivors who participate in the social immersion program demonstrate improved confidence and regain their self-esteem. When they return to their home communities, selected women conduct sensitization sessions to advocate for those without a voice and raise awareness of fistula treatment and prevention. Thanks to Mayor Keita, EngenderHealth Guinea has learned that an effective fistula care program should go beyond treating urinary continence to address emotional and psychosocial issues.
In addition to the Village Safe Motherhood Committees and the social immersion approach, Mayor Keita has played a pivotal role in improving the democratic governance principles of transparency and accountability in local government. In one year, Kissidougou increased the amount of municipal market taxes collected by 850%. With this revenue, Mayor Keita guided the creation of a waiting house for fistula clients who came to Kissidougou from outside the area. Mr. Keita also successfully advocated for and got funding from the U.S. Embassy Self-Help Project to provide solar panels to the hospital of Kissidougou and the waiting house for fistula clients.
Due to his hard work and innovative approaches toward improving fistula programming in Kissidougou, Mayor Keita was awarded a Certificate of Recognition during the Fistula Day Ceremony organized in Conakry, Guinea, on May 28, 2010. We thank Mayor Keita for his invaluable contribution to the achievement of the Fistula Care project’s objectives.