Forget the Oscars (well, not entirely: Go, Juno, go!); the movie I really want to see is A Walk To Beautiful. Having already won several awards at film festivals around the world, the film follows five courageous women as they travel to the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in Ethiopa to find a cure for the obstetric fistulas they suffer from. Fistulas are an opening between the vagina and rectum or the vagina and urethrea which occurs after days and days of obstructed labor. In developed countries around the world, fistulas have become a thing of the past since the advent of cesarean birth (the last U.S. fistula hospital closed its doors in 1895), but in developing countries around the world, it’s still a very grim reality. Incontinent, with either feces or urine dripping from their vaginas, women with fistulas are often shunned by their communities, ostracized and forced to live lives of isolation. The cure for fistulas is a simple surgical procedure, but with access to modern health care often hundreds of miles away, the cure might as well exist on another continent. Just check out some of these facts:
- For every woman who dies from pregnancy-related complications, 20 women survive but experience terrible injuries and disabilities.
- In Ethiopia, there are 59 OB/GYNs and 1,000 midwives for a population of 77 million.
- One woman dies from pregnancy-related complications every minute worldwide; 95% of them live in Africa and Asia.
- More than 99% of The Fistula Hospital patients are illiterate. (The hospital teaches all patients the Amharic Fideles and the Oromiyffa alphabets.)
- Number of patients treated at the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital every year: 1,200
- Number of obstetric fistula cases occurring in Ethiopia alone each year: 9,000
- Number of new obstetric fistula cases resulting from childbirth occurring worldwide each year: 100,000
- Number of new obstetric fistula cases resulting from childbirth occurring in the U.S. each year: 0.
The movie is playing at the Quad Cinemas in New York City right now, and has recently been extended through February 28th. I’m hoping to see it on Wed., and I’ll certainly write a review afterwards. Good stuff.
(Go Juno, go!)