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Women & Health Alliance (WAHA) International - France

International Awards

Hamdan Award for Volunteers in Humanitarian Medical Services
Women and Health Alliance (WAHA) International was created in 2009 by Her Highness Sheikha Shamsa Bint Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Nahayan, wife of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan in response to the need for innovative approaches to  improve maternal and child health in disadvantaged communities around the world.
Her Highness has a long standing commitment to women’s causes and believes that “no woman should die while bringing new life into the world or suffer needlessly for the rest of her life due to a lack of appropriate medical care”.
WAHA International provides maternal and child healthcare services including obstetric fistula surgery to women living in underserved regions of the world. Since its creation, WAHA International has worked in over 20 countries in Africa and Asia implementing projects in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Benin, Cameroon, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, Somaliland, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe. WAHA International promotes a spirit of volunteerism, and recognizes the vital contribution that volunteers make in both promoting its values and achieving its goals.
Dr. Sinan Khaddaj is a prominent surgeon appointed by Her Highness to be the Secretary General of WAHA International where he works as a full-time volunteer. He has worked relentlessly for the past 3 years to bring Her Highness’ initiatives to life and to make WAHA International what it is today by mobilizing key players around a common project and generating the political will and dynamism needed to implement new ideas and projects.
Thanks to Her Highness’ vision in combination with Dr. Khaddaj’s unwavering efforts, WAHA international has had a life-changing impact for many thousands of women, mainly from rural communities where access to maternal health care is most lacking. In particular, the organization has rapidly become a key player in terms of treating obstetric fistula and has piloted innovative new strategies aimed at preventing postpartum injuries and reducing maternal mortality.
WAHA International was a finalist in the US Secretary of State’s “Secretary’s 2011 Innovation Award” and Dr Khaddaj was a finalist for the “Rolex Award for Enterprise”.
Activities and achievements
Using mobile phone technology for maternal health:
Dr. Khaddaj has been instrumental in establishing WAHA International’s use of and mobile phone technology for outreach activities in Somalia, Somaliland and Senegal, enabling women to be informed of the health services available. Mobile phones donated to community health workers have been used to call for an ambulance when there is an emergency and to ensure that women give birth with a skilled attendant.
Innovative transport systems:WAHA designs and deploys new motorbike ambulances
On behalf of WAHA International, Dr Khaddaj has also designed and implemented an innovative motorbike ambulance that can transport women from rural areas to their local health post in the event of complications during delivery. Currently 200 motorbike ambulances are being deployed in Kenya, Senegal, Ethiopia, Chad, Niger and Somalia. The success of this operation has lead to the interest and commitment of the Ministries of Health in several countries to scale up the use of these ambulances.
Developing mobile obstetric services
WAHA International is developing Emergency Mobile Obstetric and Neonatal Units (EMONU) to provide obstetric care for women in remote rural areas where hospitals services are far away. The EMONU is a vehicle which opens up to provide an operating theatre and / or delivery room and incorporates specially adapted medical equipment and materials for low-income countries.
It is ideal for rural settings with a low coverage of institutional deliveries in order to improve maternal and newborn outcomes, including emergency Caesarean rates, blood transfusion and neonatal resuscitation.
Providing women’s care in crisis settings
In recognition of the particular vulnerability of refugee and internally-displaced populations, WAHA International has increasingly supported the implementation of maternal and health activities in camps in Kenya and in Somalia.
In such politically unstable situations, where most humanitarian actors struggle to work, WAHA International has been able to establish maternal health services in hospitals and health facilities thanks to both Her Highness’ vision and the leadership of Dr. Khaddaj. In Mogadishu in Somalia, WAHA International provides free obstetric and neonatal care and each month carries out 3000 maternal and child consultations, 300 normal deliveries, over 100 Cesarean sections and other surgical procedures and 35 surgeries for obstetric fistula repair.
In addition, WAHA International is at the forefront of efforts to develop a new global partnership with several other international aid agencies in order to intervene in emergency settings, whereby WAHA International will provide the medical component to complement the provision of shelter, non-food items and water. WAHA International’s role will focus on the medical needs of women and children, which includes providing obstetric, neonatal and pediatric services.
A leader on obstetric fistula repair
Each year WAHA International provides surgical repair for around 2,500 women with obstetric fistula, and over the past three years, the organisation has conducted fistula surgery in 20 countries across Africa and Asia.
In addition, WAHA International puts strong emphasis on training local staff in permanent fistula treatment centres linked to University teaching hospitals where continuous fistula services get integrated into the curriculum for medical students. As a result, the students get trained as part of their degree, ensuring a new generation of gynaecologists, obstetricians and urologists and are able to conduct fistula repair when they complete their studies and enter medical practice.
WAHA International is currently working with 6 university teaching hospitals in: Ethiopia (Jimma, Assela and Gondar), Sudan (Khartoum teaching hospital), Cameroon (CHU Yaoundé) and in Senegal (Hospital Grand Yoff).
Memberships and partnerships
WAHA International is currently a member of the following networks:
  • The World Health Organization’s Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health.
  • The White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood.
  • The UNFPA’s End Fistula Campaign.
  • The Inter-agency Working Group on Reproductive Health in Crises.
In addition to this WAHA International has developed individual partnerships with:
University teaching hospitals
  • Gondar University Teaching Hospital – Ethiopia
  • Adama University (Assela School of Health) - Ethiopia
  • Jimma University Teaching Hospital - Ethiopia
  • University Hospital of Yaounde (CHUY) - Cameroon
  • Teaching Hospital of Khartoum - Sudan
  • University of Hargeisa - Somaliland
  • Edna Adan Maternity and Teaching Hospital - Somaliland
  • The Grand Yoff General Hospital, Senegal
  • University Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar, Senegal
  • University Teaching Hospital Conakry – Guinea
Relief organisations
  • AMREF - African Medical and Research Foundation
  • United Arab Emirates Red Crescent Authority
  • Chaîne de l’Espoir - France
  • Médecins du Monde
  • ShelterBox
  • Electriciens Sans Frontières
International institutions
  • AORTIC - African Organisation for Research & Training in Cancer
  • International Society Of Fistula Surgeons - ISOFS
  • FIGO – The International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics.
  • International Hospital Federation (IHF)
National Foundations and Institutions
  • The Senegalese Initiative for Fistula Eradication
  • The Nigeria National Fistula Project
  • The Fistula Foundation - USA
  • African Midwives Research Network
  • National Midwife Association of Cameroon
  • Boroma Fistula Hospital, Somaliland
  • National Midwife Association of Benin
  • The Central Maternity of Zinder, Niger
  • PRINCE Health Foundation - India
  • Dr Abbo’s National Fistula & Urogynaecology Center – Sudan
WAHA International also has partnerships with the private sector such as Etihad Airways and is currently working on developing a joint partnership with Microsoft and Orange mobile provider.
In view of the great impact that WAHA International has on the lives of women and children across the developing world, the commitment to promoting a spirit of volunteerism, and the efforts made by its Secretary General, Dr Khaddaj, to this cause, the Hamdan Award for Volunteers in Humanitarian Medical Services is a well-deserved recognition for these services.