In 2010, Bard helped Mercy Ships serve the West African nation of Togo during a six-month field service. Togo ranks among the poorest nations of the world - 159 out of 182 nations as tracked by the 2009 Human Development Index. In Togo, access to health care is very inadequate. The under-five mortality rate is 140 out of 1,000, life expectancy is only 58 years, and there are only 0.35 doctors for every 10,000 people.
Vesicovaginal fistulas (VVF) and rectovaginal fistulas (RVF) are the result of a regrettable combination of obstructed labor and poverty. In western countries, most women in danger of developing these conditions are able to have a cesarean section. However, in countries like Togo, access to appropriate and affordable health care is severely limited; childbirth can be dangerous for a woman. Once a fistula develops, most women are forced to live with their condition, which includes incontinence, leaking, and odors. As a result, women are often abandoned by their families and ostracized by their communities. Many women with fistulas live in hiding, believing that no cure is possible.
To address this need, Mercy Ships works to strengthen African medical capacity to better address VVF and RVF. In partnership with Engender Health, Mercy Ships mentored four surgeons in advanced surgical techniques that are committed to serving these women and providing proper care. Dr. Steve Arrowsmith, a world renowned obstetric surgeon, provided advanced level instruction so that these surgeons could address the most difficult cases of VVF and RVF after the sessions were completed.
C. R. Bard, Inc. partnered with Mercy Ships in 2010 to provide valuable support for their operation. With the help of Bard and other organizations, Mercy Ships has impacted thousands of lives. Bard will continue to support Mercy Ships in 2011 and beyond.
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