FIGO (International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics)

FIGO Fistula Surgery Training Initiative

FIGOs' Fistula Surgery Training Initiative builds the capacities of fistula surgeons and holistic care teams to provide treatment to women affected by obstetric fistula a devastating childbirth injury.
by 1 supporter
RCN 1113263


Mariam is 19 years old and lives in Chad. Three years ago she went into labour with her first child. As she lives far from a health centre and transportation is difficult, she did not have a qualified medical professional at her birth. After many days of excruciating labour, her baby was born dead. From this moment on, she began to leak urine and faeces uncontrollably. Mariam's husband left her and her family made her live alone in a hut, she felt isolated and rejected by her community.

Until one day, when Mariam's cousin visited and told her that they take care of women with her problem in the city of Abéché. She sold her belongings to pay for transport to the city. When she arrived at the fistula treatment facility she was greeted warmly by the nurses and, for the first time, met other women, like herself, also suffering with obstetric fistula. She realised that she was not alone. After receiving surgery, nutritional care and a hospital stay for free, Mariam is healed and can now begin to think positively about her future. She told us "now that I am cured, I can't wait to go home to start my life again My dream for the future is to have a home, to have children and to resume my activities".

Mariam's story ends well, but for the vast majority of women with obstetric fistula, this is not the case. Help us to reach these women so they can share their story with hope.

The issue

Obstetric fistula is a devastating childbirth injury, and a neglected public health and human rights issue.

This injury is caused by prolonged, obstructed labour, resulting in an abnormal opening between the vagina and the bladder and/or rectum. If not surgically repaired, the affected woman is incontinent for the rest of her life, often leading to immense suffering and isolation.

The condition affects two million women in approximately 60 low-resource countries of Sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia, with up to 100,000 additional women developing a fistula every year in some of the worlds poorest and most disadvantaged communities.

What the Fistula Surgery Training Initiative does

A skilled fistula surgeon can repair most cases of obstetric fistula. However, due to a global shortage of these specialists, it is estimated that only one woman in 50 has access to fistula treatment. When taking into account the sheer magnitude of human suffering brought about by the condition, this is unacceptable.

Since 2012, the FIGO Fistula Surgery Training Initiative has been building the capacities of local trainee fistula surgeons -FIGO Fellows- and multidisciplinary teams to provide treatment to women suffering from obstetric fistula in some of the worlds most underserved communities.

As of May 2021, 67 surgeons from 22 affected countries are enrolled on the programme, and have collectively provided more than 13,000 fistula repair operations.

FIGO is determined to reach 100,000 women with its 10-Step 10-Year $10 Million Action Plan.

It is time to end the suffering caused by obstetric fistula. Over the next 10 years, the Training Initiative, in partnership with Texas Children's Hospital, wants to raise $10 million. Here are the 10 steps that will help us to reach 100,000 women with fistula:

1. Recruit and train new fistula surgeons and holistic care teams

2. Provide ongoing coaching and supervision by FIGO Trainers

3. Support fistula treatment facilities to become FIGO Fistula Training Centres

4. Supply much-needed appropriate and high-quality equipment for specialised fistula surgery

5. Provide accessible educational and training resources

6. Maximise programme effectiveness

7. Generate and share evidence to enhance clinical practice

8. Enhance collaboration

9. Raise awareness about obstetric fistula, the impact and the solutions

10. Build and support the comprehensive team required to deliver this specialised project

Your generosity can help us achieve this 10-10-10 Action Plan, so that significantly more women receive life-transforming fistula treatment and can share their stories of hope, just like Mariam. Join us. Contribute.

About the charity

FIGO’s strength comes from our world-renowned experts, whose knowledge and experience in all aspects of women’s health help shape best practice and innovation. As the Global Voice for Women’s Health, we believe that how a country looks after its women and children demonstrates how that country values its future prosperity. Ultimately, our goal is to improve the health of women and newborns by achieving universal health coverage and wellbeing and access to quality sexual and reproductive health and rights for all women everywhere. With an ambitious work plan, FIGO looks forward to working together with our 132 National Member Societies and partners to achieve our strategic objectives. Our cause could not be more important, nor our commitment more ambitious. FIGO pursues its mission through advocacy, programmatic activities, capacity strengthening of Member Societies, education and training. This mission encompasses the implementation of global projects on specific women's health issues. In addition, our specialist Committees and Working Groups embrace many aspects of obstetrics and gynaecology including oncology, perinatal health, education, safe motherhood, medical terminology, new technology, the pathology of the breast and ethics. We actively collaborate with many other national, regional and global organisations to promote the health and wellbeing of women and to raise the standards of practice in obstetrics and gynaecology.

Donation summary

Total raised
Online donations
Offline donations
Direct donations
Donations via fundraisers

* Charities pay a small fee for our service. Find out how much it is and what we do for it.