Aidex Voices

Diamedica manufacture medical equipment for use in challenging environments where infrastructure is lacking, in field hospitals and in humanitarian relief situations. We caught up with Carol Newman, Charities Liaison Officer at Diamedica, to hear about their recent collaboration with the International Organization for Women and Development (IOWD).

Across Africa, millions of women are affected by obstetric fistula, a devastating injury that is the result of prolonged obstructed labour without medical assistance (sometimes for days). This painful condition ruins women’s lives, can leave them constantly leaking urine and faeces, and often makes them outcasts from their society. 80-95% of vaginal fistula can generally be treated surgically. However, in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, an estimated 2 million women, most of them in remote rural areas, do not have access to treatment.

The problem has been particularly acute in Rwanda, where the fallout from the 1994 genocide left the country with only one anaesthetist for many years. Despite impressive re-building efforts, the nation still currently has only 12 consultant anesthetists and fewer than 30 trained surgeons serving a national population of 12 million people.

To tackle this shortage, we’ve recently started working with the International Organization for Women and Development (IOWD) and the Kibagabaga Hospital in Kigali. We provided accessible anaesthetic equipment needed to facilitate obstetric fistula surgery in remote locations, enabling surgical treatment and ultimately saving lives.  

When we started working with the IOWD team they had been actively looking for a suitable anaesthetic machine for use in Rwanda. Barbara Margolies, the Founder and Executive Director of IOWD, told us:

 “Because we cannot buy a whole lot of things and we are so careful with our money, we researched, and the Glostavent came up as the machine to buy.”

Delivering quality surgical care in regions with frequent power cuts, unreliable oxygen and inadequately trained staff is a challenging task. The IOWD mission began with the installation of a Glostavent anaesthesia machine by our engineering team at the Kibagabaga hospital. These machines are designed to function reliably with or without electricity or compressed gasses. We also trained hospital staff to operate and maintain the machine.

Subsequently, the team of IOWD arrived to conduct life-changing free fistula repair surgery for patients and to provide additional medical training for Rwandan staff.   We are now working together on a new project to equip the hospital with a new operating theatre and lifesaving paediatric equipment to strengthen future medical treatment for patients at Kibagabaga. We are equally looking forward to future collaborations with IOWD who are currently fundraising for a Glostavent anaesthetic machine for another hospital in Rwanda.