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Qualitative Analysis of the Experience of Women Supported by the IFHP to Reach Fistula Repair Services

Linking fistula prevention and curative strategies with rehabilitation and social reintegration programs is essential to full recovery, yet little research and programming have been oriented towards achieving this goal. In June 2011, Pathfinder conducted a mixed-methods study involving semi-structured interviews with 51 Ethiopian women who received fistula treatment through Pathfinder’s Integrated Family Health Program (IFHP).

Results revealed that, although Pathfinder’s IFHP model of facilitating fistula repair dramatically improved most participants’ lives, many women continued to suffer physical, social, and mental health and economic consequences during their rehabilitation. In order to promote Ethiopian women’s more holistic recovery, programs should prioritize integrating a community-based follow-up system to identify women needing further treatment and sexual, reproductive, and mental health support, bolstering linkages to income-generation opportunities, and designing metrics that assess each of these aspects.

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