Physician, Nurse from University Medical Center at Princeton Reach Out to African Women

Jan 21, 2008

Never were the skills of Scott E. Eder, MD, and nurse Kathy Raney of University Medical Center at Princeton (UMCP) more needed.

The West African nation of Niger is one of the poorest in the world, and millions of women lack access to medical care during their pregnancy. Many women who go though difficult labor without medical help contract a condition known as known as vesico vaginal fistula, in which a hole develops in the wall between the bladder and vagina due to prolonged pressure of the baby's head. Such women leak urine, and in some cases the rectal wall is also damaged, so they lose bowel control. As a result, they are often ostracized by their husbands and families and live as outcasts in society.

Dr. Eder, an OB/GYN on the medical staff of UMCP, and Kathy Raney, operating room nurse manager at the hospital, traveled to Niger in October to provide life-changing medical care to such women. They were part of a medical mission to Niger organized by the non-profit International Organization for Women and Development. Over the course of their 10-day stay, Dr. Eder, Ms. Raney and the rest of the health care team performed a total of 60 fistula repairs at the national hospital in Niamey.

"It was a privilege to take care of the West African women," said Raney. "The trip was a life-changing experience, and I returned home with many new friends and memories." UMCP donated medical equipment to the mission: an obstetrical vacuum and three anesthesia monitors. Dr. Eder instructed medical residents at the hospital in their use. While there, he also provided training in neo-natal resuscitation and assisted on general surgeries, such as cyst removals and c-sections.

This was the second trip to Niger for Dr. Eder. Next year, for his third trip, Dr. Eder plans to teach operative laparoscopic surgery.

"Opening up a patient is very difficult because of poor post-op care," he said. "We can show them how to eliminate the need for surgeries by doing laparoscopies."

Dr. Scott Eder performing a cesarean section with resident at the Maternity Hospital, Niamey, Niger, assisted by Kathy Raney, RN.
Women spend months living in the courtyard at the National Hospital, Niamey, Niger awaiting repair of their vesico-vaginal fistulas.
Dr. Eder introducing the obstetrical vacuum to the residency curriculum at Maternity Hospital, Niamey, Niger.