The French Embassy in Ghana, under the French Support Programme in Ghana, in April 2019, called for project initiatives from local organisations that are working to improve lives of their community members and the environment. The Net Organisation for Youth Empowerment and Development (NOYED-Ghana) submitted a concept on Fistula Free Northern Ghana Campaign. This application was successful with funds made available to support the implementation of the project.  The Fistula Free Northern Ghana Campaign (FFN-GC) Project, sought to achieve the following goal and objectives:

Goal; ‘To have a Fistula Free Northern Ghana’.

  1. To educate the about 1,150 people on issues of fistula and safe motherhood practices in the Kpandai district.
  2. To secure medical care and facilitate reintegration for about 30 fistula victims in selected 10 deprived rural communities in the Kpandai district.
  3. To build multi-stakeholder community groups in support of fistula victims and young girls in a sustained manner in the project communities and district.
  4. To sensitise and advocate against early marriage and/or teenage pregnancy that prevent teenagers from attending school.

Various activities were carried out to achieve the goal and objectives of the project, including

Conduct studies (Baseline, midline and end line), District stakeholder engagement, identification of vulnerable communities and Community entry, Development of communication materials/picture cards and Jingles on fistula, Identification and training of community Fistula volunteers/formation of community support groups and school-based clubs, Conduct sensitisations on fistula and effects of early/child marriage, Identification of fistula patients and referrals for surgical corrections, Reintegration and provision of livelihood support (farm inputs, grant for petty trading, etc.), Hold radio discussions/air jingles, Mentoring and monitoring of reintegrated women, Facilitate the development and enforcement of community bye-laws, Participation in capacity building with West African Civil Society Institute (WACSI) and End of project stakeholder engagement.

All these activities led to the following achievements. A year after the start of the project, though with challenges, NOYED-Ghana can confidently mention the under listed as major successes to the project;

  1. There is strong collaboration with the district stakeholders in the implementation of the project. For example, the 10 communities where the project is being implemented, were recommended for NOYED-Ghana by the district health director in consultation with the assembly based on existing data and situation of fistula in those communities and the fact that there is low access to health care by the inhabitants. These communities are: Katiejeli, Baakamba, Buya, Wajado, Konjado, Tenglanto, Nkanchina, Kumundi, Utapindo and Tigangam.  Also, the Key stakeholders from these communities were present during the launch of the project and pledged their respective support to the success of the project.
  2. From our campaigns, 18 suspected cases were identified and reported. These cases were taken to Tamale for confirmation and corrections thereof. From the examinations, 14 were confirmed Obstetric Fistula, 2 were prolapse and the remaining 2 were untreated infections
  3. With inputs from the key stakeholders; the French Embassy, UNFPA, the Fistula Center, NOYED-Ghana was able to design and came out with easy to understand education and campaign materials for the use of the community volunteers in educating the communities on Obstetric Fistula. They included; Posters, Picture cards, jingles (Produced in English, Twi and Likpakpalm) and T-shirts. These have been duly deployed and being used in the communities.
  4. Staff capacity has also been built to support the effective implementation of the project by WACSI supported by the embassy. Staff of NOYED-Ghana are now adequately informed on project management, financial and grant management, monitoring, evaluation and learning and communicating impact.
  5. There is now deepened consultation and involvement of NOYED-Ghana in the discussions of UNFPA in a taking actions towards addressing obstetric fistula. UNFPA is a major stakeholder committed to fighting obstetric fistula. NOYED-Ghana joined UNFPA and other key actors in celebrating Obstetric Fistula Day (23rd May, 2020) through e-workshop due to the COVID -19 pandemic.
  6. NOYED-Ghana and the Kpandai district office of Ghana health Service, jointly built the capacity of the Traditional Birth Attendants. This was to help prevent them from doing home deliveries since that is one of the causes of Obstetric fistula through Obstructed labour.

Campaign for Fistula Free Northern Ghana

In May 2014 Net Organisation for Youth Empowerment and Development (NOYED) launched Campaign for Fistula Free Northern Ghana. Obstetric Fistula is an abnormal hole in birth canal between the vagina and bowel and/or vagina and bladder.

In 75 per cent of cases it is caused by prolonged and obstructed labour and renders the woman incontinent, in severe pain, often abandoned by her husband and forced into isolation due to the foul odours now coming from her body.

Campaign for Fistula Free Northern Ghana is a community led education campaign engaging and training volunteer leaders to raise awareness on the causes, prevention and treatment methods of obstetric fistula within their communities.

Their contribution is vital as in northern Ghana the condition is prevalent, yet due to the nature of the condition, many women are too afraid or embarrassed to come forward, therefore official numbers for the country are not yet known.

However, around the world more than one million women suffer from obstetric fistula and up to 100,000 women are diagnosed every year.

Phase 1 of the campaign was supported by the Trull Foundation USA, through Sister Cities of Tamale and saw NOYED-Ghana work with four communities in the Tamale District.

The major sponsor for phase 2 of the campaign is Biodistributors Tasmania, Australia and has the NOYED-Ghana team working in Kpandai, the most affected district in Ghana.

To date the Campaign has positively impacted more than 1000 people in the Northern Region through education, skill development, leadership opportunities and improved physical and mental health. If you wish to find out more about the progress of this project, please sign up to our newsletter or feel free to contact us.

Promotion of Good Maternal Health Practices

During 2013, NOYED-Ghana carried out sensitisation on fundamental issues around maternal health in four rural communities in the Tamale Metropolis. Dungu, Datoo-yili, Lamashegu and Yong-Dakpem-Yili. The sensitization centered around the need for pregnant women to visit the health centers regularly for checkups to ensure their unborn babies are in good condition and that when the time comes for delivery they will deliver safely and free of complications.

The communities were also sensitised on the need for spaced and timely delivery of their children to ensure that both mother and baby remain healthy and strong. A survey was conducted and out of 10 women sampled from the four different communities, none of them had ever used contraceptive. When asked why, the common response was that it was for their husbands to decide when to have children. It was also mentioned that some of the pregnancies are unplanned, but they did no feel comfortable talking to their husbands about contraceptives.

This demonstrated the importance of educating and targeting men to get them to understand the importance of contraception, women’s rights and to plan their family.

Sexual health for a healthy future

Under our sexual health program, NOYED-Ghana has been running workshops targeting youth in both school and non-school groups. Our workshops and education sessions focus on sexual rights, contraception and the causes and prevention of HIV/AIDS and STI’s. We emphasise the use of condoms for safe sex and provide an application and removal demonstration.

Due to the success of this initial project in 2013, NOYED-Ghana is now in the planning stages of reintroducing the programmes for 2015. In order to have maximum impact and reach a large number of youth, NOYED-Ghana will also target groups outside of the school system including, but not limited to, tailors, hairdressers, carpenters and various youth groups

We will also be advocating for sexual and reproductive health to be included more strategically and effectively into school classes and curriculums in order to support and sustain the work that we undertake.