Bwaila fistula camp re-opens after 10 months closure

Bwaila fistula centre in Lilongwe

There is good news for Obstetric fistula patients in the country as the Bwaila fistula camp in Lilongwe has resumed its operations after a 10-month closure.

Executive Director of Freedom from Fistula Foundation (FFF) Maggie Moyo has described it as a great relief to the over 100 women who were left stranded in many parts of the country following the closure of the facility

In April 2020, government decided to close the only fistula camp at Bwaila Maternity hospital, paving way for the COVID-19 isolation centre in the early days of the pandemic in Malawi.

Ministry of Health wrote managers of the FFF, to relocate to Kamuzu Central Hospital; but the organisation refused citing the designs of the Bwaila centre in comparison with KCH was not conducive enough for their operations.

But government stuck to its decision which prompted Founder of the organisation Dr. Ann Glogg a Scottish, to close the centre on November 30, 2020.

Following months of discussions, Moyo says the foundation and government have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU), to resume operations at Bwaila.

Happy faces of fistula patients sharing experiences in this UNFPA file photo featuring its Representative Won Young Hong (in fisherman's jacket)

“We have now received an MOU confirming that the fistula care centre can remain at Bwaila operated by the Freedom from fistula foundation in fact for the next five years and we are so grateful," she disclosed.

Director for Reproductive health in the Ministry of Health Fanny Kachale also confirmed the development.

“The place was closed; it was because we did not have a place to keep the COVID patients; but otherwise as of now you have seen what government has done we now have that same hospital at the centre at Bwaila to be free by the freedom from fistula foundation.”   

In 10 years, the organisation has repaired over 3,000 women who in turn become ambassadors for other women especially from rural areas to be identified and repaired.

From 2011, Freedom from Fistula Foundation and Amref joined United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to support the government of Malawi on obstetric fistula treatment in Lilongwe and Mangochi.

An operating theatre at Bwaila fistula centre

UNFPA also supports the Lilongwe Bwaila Obstetric Fistula centre with medical supplies and specialists to assist in repairing fistula cases.

Fistula care services were launched in Malawi in 2010 before the official opening of the new fistula unit at Bwaila hospital in Lilongwe on July 22 in 2012 by Malawi’s President Joyce Banda and Ann Glogg from the Freedom from Fistula Foundation on the hospital’s grounds.

The 35-bed unit has its own dedicated operating theatre and the capacity to treat more than 400 women every year, many of whom are identified through the Ambassador and community sensitisation programmes that ensure women and girls from across Malawi have access to the service.