Meet Samuel Shaban (54) a Community Health Worker (CHW) from Busenge, a small village located in Buchosa District, in north-west Tanzania. He is a dedicated CHW who has been supporting the people of his village for many years. However, his efforts came into the spotlight after he started working on obstetric fistula.

An obstetric fistula is a childbirth injury that occurs as a result of prolonged and obstructed labor without timely medical intervention, such as a cesarean section or assisted delivery. During prolonged labor, the pressure of the baby’s head against the mother’s pelvis can cause tissue damage, resulting in a hole or fistula between the birth canal and the bladder or rectum. This hole leads to continuous and uncontrollable urine/fecal leakage or incontinence.

Women who experience obstetric fistula often face severe physical and psychological consequences.

The constant leakage of urine or feces can cause chronic infections, skin irritation, and social isolation due to the associated foul odor. It can also lead to infertility, as the injury may damage the reproductive organs. Furthermore, women with fistula often suffer from depression, anxiety, and social stigma, as they are often abandoned by their families and communities due to the condition.

Sadly, many women in Tanzania lose hope after developing obstetric fistula due to the lack of access to quality medical care. This is where Samuel’s story inspires hope.

Samuel Shaban noticed that the women in his community affected by this condition did not know what to do or where to seek help. Through the Amref Fistula Project, Samuel received training about supporting women affected by Obstetric Fistula.

Through this project, Samuel was able to link these women to Bugando Medical Centre and the local Hospital, where they received free fistula surgical repair, treatment, and support.

The project’s efforts have had a significant impact on 161 women in the area, helping them to reintegrate socially and economically into their communities and lead better quality lives.

Samuel’s work has not gone unnoticed, and his contribution has earned him recognition and respect from his community. With the help of the Amref Fistula Project, Samuel has given many women hope where there was none. His invaluable work has changed the lives of countless women, and for that, he is a true unsung hero.

Samuel Shaban’s dedication and compassion toward helping women in his community prove that training and educating men allies in women’s health issues can have a huge impact. Samuel’s work with the Amref Fistula Project has brought hope into the lives of many women, and it is an example of how partnerships can make a significant impact in healthcare.

(Photo credit: Amref Health Africa / Adrian Mgaya)

Story credit: Amref Health Africa Tanzania