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International Organization for Women & Development – Caitlyn Painter, DO

Written by Caitlyn Painter, DO, Fellow at the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery Fellowship Program while on Global Health rotation with the International Organization for Women & Development at Kabagabaga Hospital in Kigali, Rwanda in October-November 2018

Obstetric fistula is a complex and vexing problem, with the majority of women affected residing in sub-saharan African.  Given the medical infrastructure in these resource limited countries, it is difficult to estimate the true incident of fistula, however the WHO estimates around 33,000 new obstetric fistulas per year in sub-saharan Africa.  Our two week mission was structured around providing surgical care for Rwandan women suffering from fistula.  The IOWD, the International Organization for Women’s Development, is a 501(c)(3), that has an ongoing partnership with the Rwandan ministry of health, as well as Kibagabaga hospital in Kigali, Rwanda.  Surgical mission teams travel here, three times a year, since 2010.

The mission starts out with clinical evaluation of women complaining of fistula symptoms, which may include constant leakage or urine or feces from the vagina, usually since the birth of a child.  These women travel from…

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