Ten years after the civil war, Sierra Leone is working to improve the nation's healthcare, especially for women and children. Obstetric fistula is a common problem. Many women aren't aware that a fistula can be repaired and they live lives of despair, shunned by their villages, alone and incontinent. PMC uses radio dramas to inform women of repair surgery, tell them about the free phone call to the "fistula hotline," or where to find a clinic, and help them return to a normal life.
The most dangerous thing a woman can do in Sierra Leone is get pregnant. With one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the world, every woman who bears a child here is gambling with her life. One of the survivable complications of a difficult delivery is obstetric fistula, a hole in the birth canal that opens into the urinary tract and sometimes the rectum. Uncontrollable leaking of urine and feces renders the woman a social outcast. Many don't know that fistulas can be repaired.
The first step to treatment is having the knowledge that a repair is possible. PMC's radio drama uses characters as role models to impart information in an entertaining manner. Listeners hear about situations that are like their own lives. As characters learn and make decisions, the audience feels empowered to do the same. Epilogues at the end of episodes tell listeners where they can get help. Our aim is to inform and get people to take action for their own benefit.
The mother is the center of a strong family. Restoring a woman to health and allowing her to return to a normal life is good for her, her children and her village. Our radio drama is expected to reach 2 million people of childbearing age (15-49) throughout Sierra Leone. Our efforts support those of the government to improve the health of women and children. Knowledge is power. In many cases, it can save lives.