This report is the product of a six month research project, entitles ‘A situation analysis on Obstetric Care and Prevention in Sierra Leone’. It was carried out in partnership between FORWARD and Haikal Foundation.

Obstetric fistula is a devastating pregnancy related disability that affects an estimated 50,000-100,000 women each year, predominantly in Africa. Fistula happens when, during obstructed labour, the baby’s head exerts prolonged pressure on the mother’s pelvis. The blood supply to the tissue around her bladder, rectum and vagina is cut off, causing tissue damage. Consequently, a hole is formed between the vagina and bladder or rectum. Usually the baby does not survive.

Causes of fistula include child bearing at an early age, malnutrition, poverty and poor health care. For more information on Fistula.

The study aims to end the silence around fistula and shed light on the experiences of women suffering from this preventable and treatable disability in Sierras Leone. The conclusions made from this Participatory Ethnographic Evaluation and Research (PEER) are based solely on the experiences of and recommendations made by women affected by obstetric fistula in Sierra Leone.