Meryl Streep: Actress shed light on ‘victims’ of ‘life-threatening’ fistula’s – symptoms

The 72-year-old actress shot to fame after her movie debut in Julia in 1977. From there she obtained her first Oscar nomination for The Deer Hunter, however it was not till 1979 when she received her first Academy Award. Having loved a profitable career spanning over 4 a long time, in 2015 Streep teamed up with filmmakers to relate a movie which targeted on ladies in Sierra Leone and Malawi, who are suffering from obstetric fistula – a gap or irregular opening within the delivery canal that leads to power leakage of urine or faeces.

“This powerful film attests to the igniting power of one woman, Ann Gloag, to set in motion hundreds of helping hands, doctors, nurses, caregivers, family and friends, to resuscitate the health and status of victims of fistula, and to give them back their lives,” Streep mentioned on the time.

The filmmakers famous that an estimated two million ladies in Africa reside with obstetric fistula, and greater than 500,000 ladies die every year throughout being pregnant or childbirth, although 80 p.c of these deaths are fully avoidable.

Speaking within the movie, Streep is heard saying: “These ladies are in dire want of medical care, going through an insurmountable quantity of life-threatening situations from malnutrition to drug abuse and polluted water.”

Doctor Jeff Wilkinson, a senior surgeon at the Malawi Freedom from Fistula Foundation explained more about the serious condition whilst featuring in the film.

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He said: “What happens if a woman doesn’t get to a C-section then she expels a dead baby. If the mother doesn’t bleed to death a few days later from infection then she is left with a hole.

“So instead of being able to hold your urine when you want to, it just pours out.”

The condition first develops due to an obstructed labour, when the baby’s head is constantly pushing against the individual’s pelvic bone, which prevents blood flow and causes tissue to die.

The reason why it is so prevalent in some parts of the world is because they are unable to provide accessible, quality maternal care.


Treatment can depend on the cause, size, location and effect of the fistula on surrounding tissue, but in most cases surgery is used to close or repair the area.

Surgical options include:

  • Sewing an anal fistula plug or patch of biologic tissue into the fistula to allow your tissue to grow into the patch and heal the fistula.
  • Using a tissue graft taken from a nearby part of your body or folding a flap of healthy tissue over the fistula opening.
  • Repairing the anal sphincter muscles if they’ve been damaged by the fistula or by scarring or tissue damage from radiation or Crohn’s disease.
  • Performing a colostomy before repairing a fistula in complex or recurrent cases to divert stool through an opening in your abdomen instead of through your rectum.

As well as surgery, The Mayo Clinic explains that patients are advised to ensure good hygiene to help ease discomfort while they recover.

These hygiene measures include avoiding irritants, drying thoroughly, applying creams or powder to act as a moisture-barrier, wearing loose clothing and washing with water only.

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