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home Publications Blog Guest Blog — My Investigative Trip to Burkina Faso with Dr. Itengre

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Guest Blog — My Investigative Trip to Burkina Faso with Dr. Itengre

April 24, 2017

Guest blog by Dr. Chris Payne

Dr. Payne and Dr. Itengre in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.Dr. Payne and Dr. Itengre in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

This was my first trip to Burkina Faso. I visited in late November with Dr. Itengre to investigate Worldwide Fistula Fund possibly developing new programs in Dr. Itengre’s home country. It was an eye-opening and exciting experience.

We spent the trip in the capital city, Ouagadougou, which locals call Ouaga. Burkina Faso is one of Niger’s neighbors to the West. It is a landlocked country, much like Niger. Ouaga has over 2 million people residing there, almost twice as big as Niamey, the largest city closest to Danja Fistula Center (DFC Niger). French is their primary language.

As we have seen before, recent and reliable statistics for the incidence and prevalence of obstetric fistula are difficult to ascertain in Burkina Faso. Dr. Itengre’s research over the past year shows UNFPA is the main financial and technical partner, but there are few surgeons dedicated to fistula care and 2015 millennial goals were not met. He feels there are opportunities to increase the number of women treated with dedicated services. We know the physical consequences of obstetric fistula lead to severe socio cultural stigmatization for various reasons. According to a 2010 Burkina Faso Ministry of Health and UNFPA survey, most Burkinabe do not believe obstetric fistula to be a medical condition but a curse for disrespectful behavior.

Dr. Payne and Dr. Itengre in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.Dr. Payne and Dr. Itengre in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

We visited several potential properties and met potential collaborative partners to assist in providing services to women suffering childbirth injuries starting with fistula. We observed a new airport and major road construction in the area as well. These infrastructure improvements will facilitate better travel for patients, and for future trips to Burkina Faso, as well as a new route for our travel to DFC Niger from the US.

Dr. Itengre and I visited Foundation Rama, a major organization working to treat and prevent fistula in Burkina Faso. As a mother-daughter operation, they assist about 100 patients a year. They provide reintegration programs and have an onsite village much like DFC Niger. They also have an onsite school for their patients’ children. Foundation Rama is organizing a PanAfrican Congress on fistula later this year and WFF looks forward to working with them further.

We also met with Dr. Zango of the Ouagadougou University Urology Department, Burkina Faso’s Minister of Health, Jean Kargougou, as well as Madame Ki Madeleine, an education expert. We had fruitful discussions about the larger vision of addressing women’s health issues in Burkina Faso and how we could work to address them together.

Overall, it was a very fruitful trip and I look forward to the progress WFF will make toward healing women and breaking ground in Burkina Faso.