World Leaders at Charity Launch in New York
Maternal Mortality and Childbirth Injuries Top of the Agenda
NEW YORK, September 25, 2013 /PRNewswire/ –
A host of female world leaders will tomorrow night (Thursday) join one of Europe’s
most successful businesswomen to launch the Freedom From Fistula Foundation US, a charity
dedicated to helping women and girls who are injured in childbirth.
Joining the President of Malawi, Joyce Banda, who is guest speaker at the reception in
New York, is the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; former Irish President and
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, The Honorable Mary Robinson; as well as the First
Ladies of Zambia and Mozambique. Supermodel Christy Turlington-Burns, who founded the
charity Every Mother Counts, is also attending.
The Freedom From Fistula Foundation was founded in the UK in 2008 by Ann Gloag, the
co-founder of the international transport company Stagecoach whose interests in North
America include Coach USA, Gray Line New York Sightseeing and megabus.com.
The charity helps women and girls in Africa who are so badly injured in childbirth
they are left incontinent. Their condition is known as obstetric fistula and is primarily
caused by prolonged, obstructed labour which usually leads to the baby’s death.
The world leaders will be joined by more than 100 guests on Thursday night who will
learn more about the plight of an estimated two million women and girls who are suffering
with obstetric fistula today.
Speaking ahead of the launch of the Freedom From Fistula Foundation US, Ann Gloag
said, “We have often heard it said in Africa that ‘to be in labour is to have one foot in
the grave’ and that is never more true than for the millions of women and girls who go
through days of agonising childbirth, have a stillborn baby and wake up incontinent.
“These are the forgotten people. They live in shame and isolation and are often
condemned to live as outcasts in their communities, abandoned by families and friends who
believe they are cursed.
“The truth is, all they needed was proper maternity care and access to a doctor when
they were in labour – and I don’t believe that is too much to ask in the 21st century.
“We have treated girls as young as nine who had no choice in their early marriage and
women as old as 70 who had suffered with fistula for over 40 years. By providing a
relatively simple surgery we heal them physically but the psychological and emotional
transformation is just as important to their future. We are helping to give them back
their dignity and you cannot put a price on that.
“It is very exciting to be launching our charity in the United States and I am
delighted to be welcoming so many influential and well respected female world leaders to
our event. Their presence is a reflection of how important it is that the world takes
notice of this issue. We must help these women and girls who are mothers, wives, daughters
and sisters just like us.”
Since it was launched in the UK in 2008, the Freedom From Fistula Foundation has
established three projects in Sierra Leone, Kenya and Malawi, that have the capacity to
treat up to 10,000 women and children every year.
Her Excellency Joyce Banda, President of Malawi, said, “I am delighted to be Guest of
Honour at the launch of the Freedom From Fistula Foundation US. The Fistula Care Centre
that the charity established at Bwaila in Lilongwe, is a remarkable centre that is not
just providing medical healing but is also helping to rebuild the lives of the women and
girls who are treated there. The staff treat patients with compassion and understanding
and it is often the first time the patients have been welcomed somewhere without
“The Fistula Care Centre is also providing long-term sustainable solutions for my
country through the training of Malawian surgeons, nurses, medical and clinical officers
in order to increase the number of trained personnel capable of treating fistula.
“Ann Gloag and her team are transforming the lives of hundreds of women and girls
every day in Malawi, Sierra Leone and Kenya and they deserve enormous credit for the work
Further information on the Freedom From Fistula Foundation can be found at
Note to Editors:
- Photographs from the event will be available on Friday (September, 27)
About the Freedom From Fistula Foundation
The Freedom From Fistula Foundation helps treat women and girls in Africa who have
been so badly injured in childbirth they developed an obstetric fistula which renders them
permanently incontinent. Obsteric fistula is usually caused by prolonged, obstructed
labour and a lack of access to timely medical intervention.
The aim of the Freedom From Fistula Foundation is to help these women by providing
free surgeries to heal their fistulas, free maternity care to prevent fistulas and ensure
safe childbirth, and provide training to local healthcare workers.
The charity was established in the UK in 2008 and officially launched in the US in
2013. It has three projects in Africa treating providing free surgeries to heal fistula -
Malawi, Kenya and Sierra Leone – and also has a maternity unit and children’s clinic in
Sierra Leone. The three projects have the capacity to treat up to 10,000 women and
children every year.
SOURCE Freedom From Fistula Foundation