In the world's newest country, three out of four people have no access to basic health care. Women and children bear the brunt of this neglect: many women do not survive pregnancy or childbirth, and children die from preventable diseases and malnutrition.
Female genital cutting, or FGC, is the practice of surgically removing part or all of a girl’s or woman’s external genitalia. It has a number of negative physical and psychological effects, and in the worst cases can lead to death through severe bleeding. MSF arrived in the Tagadom area of Red Sea State in 2006 to raise awareness about the medical effects of FGC and to offer high-quality, free-of-charge maternity services. First, however, the teams had to begin a very difficult, and ultimately very rewarding process of talking about these and other taboo subjects.
Obstetric fistulas, most often the result of prolonged obstructed labor, is an opening that occurs between the bladder and the vagina, or between the rectum and the vagina and causes a woman to become incontinent, among other devastating medical and social consequences. According to the UN, an estimated two million women live with fistulas today—about half of them in Nigeria.