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Beyond SurgeryInjury, Healing, and Religion at an Ethiopian Hospital$
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Anita Hannig

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226457154

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226457321.001.0001

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From Orphan to Apprentice: Crafting Patient Entrepreneurs at Desta Mender

From Orphan to Apprentice: Crafting Patient Entrepreneurs at Desta Mender

(p.179) Six From Orphan to Apprentice: Crafting Patient Entrepreneurs at Desta Mender
Beyond Surgery

Anita Hannig

University of Chicago Press

This chapter offers an account of the tumultuous history and present of Desta Mender, an outpost for incurable fistula patients with urostomy bags near Addis Ababa. The chapter examines how their medical device transformed patients’ bodily, material, and social landscapes, documenting the predicaments many came to face as a result of having a urostomy. In fact, it was the stoma bag’s very reality that prevented women from returning to their home communities and that led to their institutionalization. In a well-meant effort to use biomedical technology to ameliorate the health of women with chronic fistula, the hospital produced a population of patients who became displaced and estranged from the life they once knew. As a result of treatment for their injuries, women’s lives underwent dramatic changes; away from kin and home, they had to entirely refashion themselves into viable individuals. More than any other aspect of fistula treatment, Desta Mender captures the extramedical functions of therapy—and some of its unintended consequences—the most. To this effect, the chapter unravels the rationale behind the figure of the “patient entrepreneur”—a person whose health cannot be fully restored but who must show potential for being rehabilitated into a viable economic actor.

Keywords:   ileal conduit surgery, urostomy, chronic conditions, therapy, institutionalization, entrepreneur, microcredit, healing, autonomy, dependency

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