VVF Programme

VVF Images

Vesico-Vaginal Fistula’s result from a pregnant woman being in obstructed labour (ie, there is a problem with the delivery of the baby) for a prolonged period of time. This happens in areas with poor access to surgical care and they are unable to undergo the caesarian section they need to deliver the baby. As a result of this scenario the baby dies (and eventually delivers) and the mother ends up with a pathological passage (fistula) between the bladder and birth passage. As a result the woman is persistently incontinent of urine. In severe cases there can also be incontinence of stool.

As a result these women are not able to undertake normal social activities and are usually outcast from society. There are also beliefs that they have been cursed by witch doctors, which exacerbates their rejection. These patients are often teenagers when they sustain this injury (their young bodies were too small to deliver the baby) and as such they are vulnerable members of their society and often go on suffering for many years before seeking help.

For most of them there was no surgical service they could access until Mercy Flyers brought this service to them. It is clear these women would find a public transport journey to a referral hospital where they might be able to see a gynaecologist impossible for social and financial reasons.

Thus far in 2009 we have undertaken 48 VVF repairs around the country, along with numerous other gynaecology operations. Many of these patients do not present for help because they believe their condition to be incurable. We hope that the first wave of brave patients will demonstrate to their similarly affected friends that cure is possible. We have started to see signs of this as each outreach is attracting more and more patients. We are gradually expanding the service and have included two more hospitals in our outreach programme. There are few things more rewarding than seeing these young women with beaming smiles after they have been cured and can go back to their home villages again with their lives restored.


Patients' Stories

Dorothy's Story

I am Dorothy. Born in 1983, I am 28 years. I am from Kabompo, a 3-4 hour drive in a vehicle from Chitokoloki. I started Grade 1 at school when I was 16 years. By Grade 2, I had a boyfriend (my age mate) who was doing Grade 3. He had lost all his family and relatives through illness. So he decided to get me, so he would not be alone. We were married in the year 2000 at 17 years. We have 4 living children...

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Emalda's Story

Emelda is 28 years old. She comes from a family of 8 children, 3 brothers and 4 sisters. She was educated to grade 2 after which her family could not afford further education for her. In 2002 she went into labour with her first baby in her village in the Isoka district...

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Lontia's Story

"I was the laughing stock in my village. Wherever I went people would not stay with me for a long time due to the urine leakage. I could not even sleep at funeral houses or participate in church activities or even go to church. I was not myself, I was downcast, lonely, but in the midst of people. But when I heard about Mercy Flyers support, that there was going to be help from the hospita in Chipata for women with this problem I made up my mind to get there at any cost...

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Prudence's Story

When I was pregnant in 1999 my labour started in the morning. I did not deliver that day so my mother decided to take me to the hospital which is some distance from our village. We used a mokoro (banana-boat) to reach Lubwe, this journey took 7 hours. I was examined only to be told that because we had taken so long to get to hospital the baby had died. I had an operation immediately but shortly after the operation I started leaking urine. I didn't understand what was happening to me, but they explained that my badder had torn due to the prolonged labour...

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Mulungu's Story

I went into labour in April 2007 at night. Mum went to call the traditional birth attendant (TBA) who came to our aid. The following morning I had still not delivered so the TBA advised mum to take me to the hospital as I was tired. Mum organised a small boat and we travelled for almost 16 hours to reach Samfya district hospital. The medical officer examined me and advised us to go to Mansa hospital as I needed an operation and there was no surgeon at Samfya....

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Dainess' Story

I was pregnant in 1986 and started labour at night at home. After 2 days I was taken to hospital by bicycle. At the hospital I delivered my son normally. Shortly after the delivery I discovered that I no longer had the urge to void but rather had a constant leak of urine. I have had this for 23 years now...

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Alice's Story

In 2004 I went into labour but the baby didn't come out. I went to the rural health clinic who referred me to the hospital but it took a full day to get to the hospital. I had an operation to deliver the baby at the hospital but it had already died. After this operation I noticed that I was leaking urine....

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Elisabeth's Story

In 1989 during my second pregnancy I was in labour for 2 days when I attended the rural clinic. My baby was born at the clinic but then I started to leak urine 1 week after I returned home. I have been leaking urine for 20 years now....

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Mirriam's Story

Mirriam is over fifty years old but doesn’t know her date of birth. She married when she was about twenty. With her first pregnancy, she had a very difficult labour which lasted for two days at home in the village, then transferred to Chinsali Hospital, and finally to Chilonga Hospital...

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