Eritrean Women's Health Project

Alpha Omega Eta African Sorority, Incorporated selected Eritrea as its target service abroad program in 2009/2010 in response to the country’s apparent health care needs. In line with our 2009/2010 service goal of "Improving Women's Health,” the Eritrean Women's Health Project was a perfect match. All the proceeds from our 2009 Charity Ball held in Virginia were sent to "Americans for UNFPA" who allocated 100% of our funds to the Eritrean Women's Health Project.

The Eritrean Women's Health Project is an initiative that was started by Dr. Mary Lake Polan, chair of the Stanford University Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology. The objective of this health initiative is to repair damaged fistula's of the women in need of such services in Eritrea.

"Eritrea has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, with approximately 1,000 deaths/100,000 births and this is due to the high incidence of obstructed labor. The rural nature of Eritrea, with poor communication and transportation infrastructure in the outlying areas, results in 80% of deliveries occurring without a physician or trained midwife. As such, many women labor for days, resulting in high maternal and fetal mortality as well as a high incidence of birth trauma such as vesicovaginal fistulas.”

In 2002, Dr. Polan and four other gynecologists from the Stanford School of Medicine and a gynoncologist from Johns Hopkins University worked on women with vesicovaginal and rectovaginal fistulas and began to teach the surgeons in Eritrea these surgical techniques to repair large vesicovaginal fistulas. At the Mikane Hiwot Hospital in Asmara, they operated on 37 women with vesicovaginal and rectovaginal fistulas. Preliminary outcome data from the project suggests that two-thirds of the women were successfully repaired and remain dry.

For more information on the Eritrean Women's Health Project, you can visit: Eritrean Women's Health Project