Hear directly from Fistula Foundation about its work:
Obstetric fistula is the most devastating and serious of all childbirth injuries. It most commonly occurs in poor, rural areas in Africa and Asia where women have limited access to emergency obstetric care. When a woman experiences an obstructed labor under these conditions, she will likely be in excruciating pain for days. The constant pressure of the baby’s head on the pelvis restricts blood flow to the soft tissue between the mother’s vagina and her bladder or rectum, leaving holes known as “fistulae.” It is these holes that cause incontinence.
Unable to control her urine and/or feces, she too often suffers with chronic infections and pain. What’s more, with too little community understanding of fistula and its causes, a woman can be blamed for her condition and shunned by her neighbors and family. Over a million women worldwide suffer from this wrenching condition.
Cost-effective, restorative surgery is the answer. An obstetric fistula can only be treated with corrective surgery. If the operation is performed by a skilled surgeon, a woman with fistula can very often return to a normal life, with her continence and hope restored. However, due to stigma and lack of awareness, poverty, and inadequate healthcare systems, only an estimated 20,000 procedures take place annually. Across Fistula Foundation partners in over 20 countries, $586 is the average cost to provide one woman in Africa or Asia with life-changing surgery.