The other Butterfly Effect: MSF treats women injured in childbirth

Approximately two million women worldwide suffer from an obstetric fistula, one of the most serious consequences of obstructed labour. A fistula is a hole between the vagina and the bladder or rectum, through which urine or faeces leak continuously. The injury is completely preventable and has almost disappeared in developed countries where there is universal access to obstetric care.

Women with fistulas are often outcasts from their communities because of the smell associated with the leaking of urine/faeces, and in some cases they are abandoned by their husbands. Surgery can help them to start a whole new life: just like a butterfly, many women who lived secluded lives begin a fresh start after their operation. But chances for women to have their fistula repaired are slim, as many hospitals or health clinics do not have the proper instruments or knowledge and skills to carry out the specialized procedure.

In addition to offering maternal health services to prevent delivery complications in numerous countries, in 2010, MSF teams have operated and treated about 1,000 women suffering from obstetric fistula. Below impressions from a fistula camp in Boguila, Central African Republic.