Working to end fistulas in Congo

Giving birth in good conditions can mean the difference between life and death. It can also prevent illnesses from occuring that can have disastrous consequences -- like obstetric fistulas. If a woman is experiencing complications during delivery and does not receive obstetric care, a fistula can form. A fistula is an opening between the bladder and the vagina, or between the rectum and the vagina. Close to a million and a half women in Africa suffer from them. Most of these women are shunned by society. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) runs a project at the Masisi General Hospital in North Kivu Province. Working with the Congolese health authorities, MSF offers surgery, primary and secondary health care, and support for victims of sexual violence. Mobile clinics travel to the camps to provide medical consultations. Photographs © Martina Bacigalupo