Each year, 50,000 to 100,000 women around the world experience an obstetric fistula — a hole that develops between the vagina and the rectum or bladder due to prolonged or obstructed childbirth. Furthermore, the World Health Organization estimates 2 million women live with an untreated obstetric fistula in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
In Luweero, Uganda, however, women with an untreated obstetric fistula now have hope of healing. With help from nonprofit Ssubi is Hope and supplies donated from Sharp Rees-Stealy and other Sharp HealthCare facilities, Luweero’s Bishop of Asili Hospital recently opened The Asili Obstetric Fistula and Gyn Care Women’s Surgical Center.
Opening a center like this has been a dream of Ssubi founder Laura Luxemburg’s for five years. After countless hours of planning and preparation, Luxemburg’s dream became a reality in September 2018 when its doors opened.
“With this project, Ssubi means empowerment, dignity and hope. We talk and talk about empowerment all the time, but to provide a life-changing procedure — that brings real change to so many around the world,” explains Luxemburg.
Improving women’s health in Uganda
Each project Ssubi undertakes is geared to a particular need of the community it’s serving. Uganda has the third largest rate of obstetric fistulas in the world, and the clinic is crucial in improving quality of life for women in this region.
Unfortunately, this condition occurs most often among impoverished girls and women, especially those living far from medical services. Living with an untreated obstetric fistula means living with incontinence and, most often, rejection by a woman’s husband, family and community. Surgery can usually repair the injury, yet many women in the region with this condition do not know that treatment is available, are too ashamed to travel, or they cannot afford it.
Upon opening, the center has seen a steady flow of women in need who refer to themselves as “broken” — one woman had been suffering for 40 years and another for 27 years. “This women’s center is already bringing hope and will continue to do so. I wouldn’t be able to do it if I hadn’t had the equipment and supplies,” says Luxemburg.
Ssubi is Hope’s impact goes beyond health care. Its mission is to also improve sustainability in the region it supports. One of the many ways the nonprofit has done this is through implementation of a farming project, which teaches gardening and farming practices to community members.
Learn more about Ssubi is Hope’s work to promote sustainability in the developing world at ssubi.org.
For the news media: To talk with Laura Luxemburg about Ssubi is Hope for an upcoming story, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at email@example.com.