Dr. Rahel Nardos named secretary, Worldwide Fistula Fund Board of Directors

July 17, 2017

Dr. Rahel NardosRahel Nardos, M.D. R '11, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, OHSU School of Medicine, was recently elected secretary of the Worldwide Fistula Fund (WFF) Board of Directors. Worldwide Fistula Fund strategically partners with local organizations and institutions to enable Africans to solve their own problems in meeting their women's health care needs. Dr. Nardos has been active on the WFF Board since 2014, and has been key in developing and growing WFF's collaborative medical education programs in Ethiopia to increase access to quality maternal care and build capacity in the developing world.

Born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Dr. Nardos makes multiple trips each year to provide surgeries to women suffering with childbirth injuries in Ethiopia. In collaboration with her OHSU colleagues and the Center for Women's Health, Dr. Nardos founded Footsteps to Healing, a global women's health initiative providing surgical services to rural Ethiopian women with pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence.

Under Dr. Nardos' leadership, Footsteps to Healing joined WFF's vision in sub-Saharan Africa to increase access and capacity for expert care by training local obstetrician-gynecologists. Currently, this partnership is supporting the first Urogynecology Fellowship Training Program in Ethiopia in collaboration with Mekelle University and Hamlin Fistula Hospital. The first two Ethiopian fellows from this program will be graduating in November 2017 – helping ensure a sustainable clinical and surgical capacity in pelvic floor care in Ethiopia.

The need for such services is clear. Although childbirth injuries like obstetric fistula are both preventable and treatable, an estimated one million girls and women currently suffer from this injury in the developing world. Caused by prolonged, obstructed labor, obstetric fistula leaves a woman incontinent. In addition to treatment, WFF provides social reintegration services and promotes prevention through doctor and community health advocacy training to improve the overall safety of childbirth. WFF also treats women with pelvic organ prolapse, another devastating childbirth injury, resulting in the bulging or falling of the vaginal tissues.

Dr. Nardos also holds positions as director of global health in OHSU's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and as lead urogynecologist at Kaiser Permanente Northwest.

Related reading

Notes from Ethiopia: Another successful trip for Footsteps to Healing