The lived experiences of obstetric fistula sufferers in Malawi

The project design is a retrospective qualitative study which will be conducted in Malawi and the Gambia. Approximately 20-25 women, members of their families and key informants will be interviewed.


Obstetric fistula is most common in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asian where access to and use of obstetric care is limited. It is estimated that approximately 2 million women and girls suffer from this condition. In Malawi, it is estimated that 1.6 women per 1000 are affected with obstetric fistula.

The impact of obstetric fistula is multifaceted, having both medical and psychosocial sequalae. For some women, the consequences of living with obstetric fistula end up being far worse than death itself. Their stories are rarely told or heard in Malawi.

Data will be collected using interview guides. Underpinned by grounded theory and directed by dimensions of stigmatization and human rights, data analyses will be conducted as an activity simultaneously with data collection and interpretation, and narrative writing.


The proposed research project explores the daily lives of women suffering from obstetric fistula to better understand the gravity of the situation, and the psychosocial, economic and cultural contexts in which they live, survive, and cope. To understand why stigmatization against these women continue to persist and to propose community level interventions to help mitigate the impact of obstetric fistula on women and their families.


  • University of Oslo


  • Kamuzu College of Nursing, Malawi
  • AFPRC General Hospital (The Gambia)

Start - finish

January 2015 - 2017

Tags: Global South
Published Feb. 27, 2015 2:44 PM - Last modified May 31, 2016 3:14 PM


  • Oda Lockert
  • Silje Onsager Stordal
  • Viva Combs Thorsen
  • Josephine Changole
Detailed list of participants