In the News
Portland Resident and Worldwide Fistula Fund Board Member Travels to Ethiopia to Heal Women and Train Doctors
February 17, 2015
OHSU Assistant Professor is also Urogynecologist at Kaiser Permanente
WFF Headquarters: Schaumburg, IL — Local doctor Rahel Nardos joined the Worldwide Fistula Fund (WFF) Board and traveled to Mekelle, Ethiopia with a team from Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) January 30 – February 15, 2015, for an intensive schedule of surgery and teaching at Mekelle University’s Ayder Referral Hospital and the Mekelle Hamlin Fistula Center. Helping Mekelle University develop such collaborations with US universities was the work of WFF founder, Dr. L. Lewis Wall, to strengthen their obstetrics-gynecology department and create Ethiopia’s first sub-specialist fellowship training program in urogynecology.
Dr. Nardos is currently a urogynecologist at Kaiser Permanente in Clackamas and Assistant Professor in research and global health at OHSU. Kaiser Permanent donated medical instruments for the recent trip. Born and raised in Ethiopia, Dr. Nardos is a Yale School of Medicine graduate with her obstetrics-gynecology residency completed at Washington University. Dr. Nardos returned to Ethiopia and spent a year caring for women with obstetric fistula at Hamlin Fistula Hospital following her residency. Footsteps to Healing, a health initiative she founded with her urogynecology colleagues through OHSU Foundation, provides free uterovaginal prolapse surgeries to rural women in Gimbie, Ethiopia. Dr. Nardos looks forward to improving health services for women across sub-Saharan Africa through her WFF Board Membership.
Additionally, Michael Wittek is named Chair; Chris Payne is named Vice Chair; past Board Chair, Nancy Muller, now serves as Treasurer and Terry Wall is named Secretary. Our Founder, Lewis Wall, has made time to rejoin the Board as Director Emeritus.
WFF is dedicated to eradicating obstetric fistula, a devastating childbirth injury sustained during prolonged, obstructed labor when a baby cannot fit through a mother’s birth canal. Pressure from obstructed labor destroys tissue normally separating the mother’s vagina from her bladder or rectum – leaving a hole with continuous, uncontrollable leakage of urine or feces.
A woman suffering an obstetric fistula is often abandoned by her husband, shunned by her community and living in isolation. An estimated two million girls and women in developing nations currently suffer from an obstetric fistula. Obstetric fistula is both preventable and treatable.
Built by WFF, Danja Fistula Center (DFC) in Niger has performed over 500 surgeries to date at no cost to the patients. All surgical and clinical care is provided by our African expert fistula surgeon. With local partner, TERREWODE, WFF supports treatment and fistula survivor training through the Women’s Reintegration Center in Uganda. A network of community advocacy groups identifies and refers Ugandan women in need of care, provides support through survivor peer groups and prevents fistula through community education. WFF empowers fistula survivors in both Niger and Uganda with literacy education and skills to earn income once they return home. Tailoring, commercial food preparation, creating perfume and making jewelry are some of the vocational classes available.
By Training OB-GYNs in Ethiopia, WFF helps prevent obstetric fistulas and increases access to expert care. WFF Founder, Dr. Wall, helped Mekelle University in Ethiopia develop collaborative partnerships to: enhance residency training in obstetrics-gynecology, bring experts in reconstructive pelvic surgery to Ethiopia, develop Ethiopia’s first sub-specialist fellowship training program in urogynecology and conduct research to improve future clinical treatment protocols.
To interview Dr. Nardos or learn more please contact Director of Communications, Soja Orlowski, at Soja@WFFund.org or call (847) 264-5971 (day), (312) 342-8896 (eve).