Creating Synergy in Women's Maternal and Reproductive Health: Building Global Research Capacity to Eradicate Obstetric Fistula.

Lay Summary 
Obstetric fistula (OF) is a tragic maternal health condition affecting between two to three million women worldwide. OF is a hole between the vagina and bladder and/or rectum which is usually the result of prolonged obstructed labor, where a woman does not have access to adequate obstetric care. When left untreated, the continuous and uncontrollable stream of urine and/or feces from the vagina becomes physically, psychologically and socially insufferable. The circumstances surrounding OF are deeply rooted in gender imparity, inaccessibility of health care services, lack of health education, and harmful cultural practices experienced by women and girls in marginalized communities globally. Failure to acknowledge and address OF as an international health concern violates women's human right to reproductive health care. Canada has already stated its commitment to advancing the rights and health of women and girls around the world at the 2019 Women Deliver Conference. Following on from previous research completed in Ghana where the incidence of OF is high, this proposed project seeks to use a participatory approach to engage stakeholders in composing comprehensive strategies to support global and country-specific needs and policy development for the eradication of OF. Grounded in the work of Habermas (1974), a participatory approach relies on equitable sharing of knowledge and power to enable communities to exercise greater control over their lives and health. The proposal outlines a three-day knowledge exchange workshop bringing together Ghanaian women affected by OF and their families, policy makers, service providers, nongovernmental organizations, women's advocates, and researchers with the goal of creating an action plan or framework towards the prevention and care of OF. An outline of the workshop is included as well as plans for evaluation. 


Faculty of Medicine
Newfoundland and Labrador
Social Issues
Environmental Protection
Health and Wellness
Industry Sectors 
Health Care and Social Assistance
Start date 
1 Jan 2020
End date 
31 Dec 2020
Lead Organization 
Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University