The ambassadors make use of M-Pesa system to transfer funds that cover patients travel to Dar es Salaam or any CCBRT satellite hospital across the nation for surgery.
The “Fistula is treatable” programme was launched in 2012 and seeks to encourage women living with the condition to get treatment, helping them to recover from emotional trauma and social isolation that comes with fistula; allowing them to regain their wellbeing, self-respect and integrate back into society.
Speaking at the event, director of corporate affairs and Vodacom Tanzania Foundation Rosalynn Mworia said “These new ambassadors join an existing network of more than 3000 fistula ambassadors who can actively identify patients and refer them to CCBRT or other CCBRT satellite hospitals providing fistula treatment such as Bugando (Mwanza), KCMC (Kilimanjaro), Nkinga (Tabora), Peramiho Mission Hospital (Ruvuma), Kabanga Mission Hospital(Kigoma), Songea Regional Hospital (Ruvuma) and Selian (Arusha) by using M-Pesa platform to transfer money to the women.
"I urge the ambassadors to organize outreaches in their communities to educate people about fistula and create support networks that will facilitate open discussions on challenges and other issues concerning fistula," the director said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that in Tanzania there are approximately 3,000 new cases of fistula each year.
The initiative was developed as part of Vodacom Tanzania Foundation’s policy to support government efforts to improve health services in the country and tackle maternal mortality.
“Fistula is a preventable condition that we must curb together. In this day and age, no woman should be discriminated against or feel isolated in her own community.
We applaud Vodacom Tanzania Foundation’s support in increasing the number of women accessing fistula treatments thus tackling maternal health problems in the country. We need to address the backlog of women suffering in silence in their communities across Tanzania,” said CCBRT’s Chief Executive Officer Brenda Msangi
The CCBRT CEO added that lack of awareness and education remains a reason why many women with fistula live a life of isolation and stigma despite the fact that fistula is a treatable condition which is why the ambassadors are critical in the program; they identify and refer such women to treatment centres.
She explained that, in the first year that M-PESA was introduced into our referral system, we saw a 65 per cent increase in the number of women treated for obstetric fistula. In 2016, 87per cent of obstetric fistula patients were referred via M-PESA.