For women in Sierra Leone needing surgery for fistula, the lack of access to safe anesthesia is yet another hurdle.
Frequent power cuts and a lack of oxygen tanks meant that most health facilities in the country can’t provide general anesthesia, ruling out procedures like urinary diversion for fistula patients. But new Universal Anesthesia Machines, called UAMs, could help. The machines are expensive, at $23,000 each, but they can operate without electricity or outside oxygen sources in emergencies.
Even if health facilities can obtain UAMs, though, they still need to train local staff to maintain and repair the machines, warns Michael Koroma, an anesthesiologist with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation.