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Release Date: 03/18/2015

Each year in sub-Saharan Africa, it is estimated that more than 33,000 women develop obstetric fistulae and subsequent urinary and/or fecal incontinence. Unfortunately, these women are currently not able to be adequately repaired by local physicians due to lack of training and resources.

Last month, Dr. Star Hampton and her senior fellow, Dr. Sonali Raman, of the Division of Urogynecology and Reconstructive Pelvic Surgery at Women & Infants Hospital traveled to Rwanda with the International Organization for Women and Development (IOWD) as part of a fistula repair team. Dr. Hampton has been travelling to Africa each year since 2005, when she was a Urogynecology fellow at NYU, and she is now the team leader and lead surgeon for the IOWD mission. Two graduates from the Women and Infants fellowship, Dr. Blair Washington and Dr. Peter Jeppson, are now attendings on the surgical team after experiencing this as senior fellows with Dr. Hampton.

The team from Women & Infants Hospital worked in Kigali, Rwanda, where they served for two weeks at Kibagabaga Hospital with a team of American surgeons, anesthesiologists, and nurses. They collaborated with and trained Rwandan physicians, medical students, and nursing staff, teaching them post-surgical care for the women, as well as basic anatomy, surgical preparation, sterility concepts, evaluation, and surgical approaches. Dr. Raman also ran a fourth degree laceration workshop that was attended by more than 60 Rwandan care providers.

During this trip, Dr. Hampton’s team evaluated more than 130 women with fistula who were waiting for them and their skilled surgical hands. The team was able to successfully operate on over 50 of these women. “Our team was able to provide basic and advanced care to the women in Africa, women whose lives were definitely improved. We worked hard to tackle difficult surgical cases and to create meaningful results for the women of Rwanda.”

About Women & Infants Hospital

Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, a Care New England hospital, is one of the nation’s leading specialty hospitals for women and newborns. A major teaching affiliate of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University for obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics, as well as a number of specialized programs in women’s medicine, Women & Infants is the 12th largest stand-alone obstetrical service in the country and the largest in New England with approximately 8,500 deliveries per year. A Designated Baby-Friendly® USA hospital, U.S.News & World Report 2014-15 Best Children’s Hospital in Neonatology and a 2014 Leapfrog Top Hospital, in 2009 Women & Infants opened what was at the time the country’s largest, single-family room neonatal intensive care unit.

Women & Infants and Brown offer fellowship programs in gynecologic oncology, maternal-fetal medicine, urogynecology and reconstructive pelvic surgery, neonatal-perinatal medicine, pediatric and perinatal pathology, gynecologic pathology and cytopathology, and reproductive endocrinology and infertility. It is home to the nation’s first mother-baby perinatal psychiatric partial hospital, as well as the nation’s only fellowship program in obstetric medicine.

Women & Infants has been designated as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiography; a Center of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Gynecology; a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence by the National Institutes of Health (NIH); and a Neonatal Resource Services Center of Excellence. It is one of the largest and most prestigious research facilities in high risk and normal obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics in the nation, and is a member of the National Cancer Institute’s Gynecologic Oncology Group and the Pelvic Floor Disorders Network.
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