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Astellas backs fistula campaign

Supports efforts in Kenya to give women access to surgical treatment


Video produced by Astellas to explain the Action on Fistula programme

Astellas Pharma is giving its support to a campaign in Africa to treat women with obstetric fistula, a condition in which a hole develops between the vagina and the rectum or bladder following childbirth.

Led by the Fistula Foundation, the Action on Fistula programme is a three-year initiative that aims to transform the lives of more than 1,200 women in Kenya living with the condition.

The £1.5m funding provided by Astellas will help increase by 100 per cent the number of fistula surgeons in Kenya specifically trained to treat the condition, while the number of surgical operations will also rise.

It is thought there are 3,000 new cases of obstetric fistula annually in Kenya, with approximately one to two fistulas for every 1,000 deliveries.

Although there are few occurrences in more developed nations, the condition is still prevalent in poorer regions with limited healthcare systems.

Ken Jones, president and CEO of Astellas Pharma Europe explained: “Obstetric fistula has been virtually eliminated in higher income countries yet is estimated to still affect around one million women worldwide, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Astellas Action-on-Fistula-image

Ken Jones, Astellas, meets a fistula survivor in Kenya

Action on Fistula also hopes to tackle the practical aspects of fistula treatment in Kenya where many women live in isolated rural communities.

Fistula Foundation CEO Kate Grant backed the view that there is still an “enormous need” for such treatment in Kenya.

“We're honoured to be working with Astellas to help end the suffering of women across the country,” she said. “We can't face this challenge alone.”

As well as funding the programme, Astellas is encouraging its employees to fundraise to support fistula treatment. For every €350 raised, an additional woman can receive life-changing surgery.

The work of Astellas and the Fistula Foundation is part of a global effort led by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to end obstetric fistula.

Commenting on Action on Fistula, UNFPA chief, sexual and reproductive health branch, Dr Laura Laski, said: “The partnership is the first of its kind in Kenya and has the potential to be a roadmap for the way corporations, NGOs and citizens can join together to identify and treat the severe backlog of women who are suffering from obstetric fistula.”

Article by
Tara Craig

27th May 2014

From: Marketing, Healthcare

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