International Day to End Obstetric Fistula


Fistula is a human rights violation: end it now!

23 May 2019 is the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula. Join us and help more women living with obstetric fistula to recover and rebuild their lives.

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

2 million women in low-resource settings have an obstetric fistula, and 100,000 develop one every year. Leaking urine and / or faeces and living in despair on the margins of their own life, only 1 in 50 will ever receive treatment.

FIGO's Fistula Surgery Training Initiative aims to train enough surgeons to permanently eradicate the condition.

Obstetric fistula is currently not a priority discussion point or high on the global political agenda. We believe it’s time that this violation was brought back to the forefront of global conversation, to ensure that no woman is left behind. 

Share their stories to #EndFistula

FIGO Fellows, trainee fistula surgeons from some of the world’s most disadvantaged communities committed to closing the global gap in treatment, share their perspectives. So do their patients: women whose lives have been wrecked by this neglected public health and human rights violation, and who deserve access to treatement. 

Here are their stories:

In Kenya, one life-transforming surgery at a time


In Nigeria, surgery can end the isolation

In Somalia, restoring dignity


In Somaliland, the first female surgeon rebuilds lives

À Madagascar, les histoires peuvent faire la différence

In Yemen, ending fistula under armed conflict

The Global Treatment Gap

Dr Andrew Browning, Chair of FIGO's Fistula and Genital Trauma Committee, addresses the global treatment shortage of fistula surgeons which leaves an estimated 2 million women waiting for life-transforming surgery: 


Draft Tweets

"After a complicated operation, Maryam woke up in a dry bed for the first time since 1989. She couldn’t finish a sentence she was so emotional. She couldn’t describe it in words, but she concluded – this surgery means the world for me". #EndFistula #IDEOF

"There is a patient I will never forget. Her neighbourhood was being raided by air missiles when she went into labour. She tried giving birth at home, but the baby was obstructed". Read more about #EndFistula from Dr Bilquis Al-Jailani in Yemen #IDEOF

"One of the first patients I ever helped was Mahafaly. who had lived with her #fistula for 22 years. No one wanted to come near her because she smelled of urine". Read more from Dr Fidèle Rakotoarivololona, #FIGO Fellow, #Madagascar #EndFistula #IDEOF

"#ObstetricFistula deprives a woman of her capacity, batters her dignity, and disables her rights as a human being. There needs to be a concerted effort to ensure these women’s lives are restored". On #IDEOF hear from Dr John Omboga, Kenya #EndFistula

Downloadable Assets for Social Media

Download the assets for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter here


Messaging for Advocacy asks

An obstetric fistula is a neglected public health and human rights issue, life shattering for two million women in some of the worlds most disadvantaged communities. If SDG3 is to be achieved functioning maternal health services - including emergency obstetric care- must be in place.

Ask your leaders to invest in training more fistula surgeons in low resource countries. It’s time to end Obstetric Fistula and to ensure that no woman is left behind.

Messaging for media statements

An obstetric fistula is a neglected public health and human rights issue. A childbirth injury caused by unrelieved obstructed labour; resulting in an abnormal opening between the vagina and the bladder and/or rectum which leads to uncontrolled leaking of urine and/or faeces from the vagina.

It’s a life shattering condition affecting two million women in 55 low resource countries of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia; with up to 100,000 additional women tragically developing a fistula every year in some of the world’s poorest and most disadvantaged communities.

Obstetric Fistula is fully preventable when women and girls have access to comprehensive, safe delivery services and emergency obstetric care.

For every woman who receives treatment for her fistula, at least 50 more go without because of a global shortage of trained, skilled fistula surgeons, and a huge unmet need to treat and repair the backlog of women suffering from this condition.

Ending obstetric fistula within a generation is a goal not only worthy of, but mandatory to achieving the SDGs.

It’s time that obstetric fistula was brought back to the forefront of global conversation and to ensure that no woman is left behind.  

Join us and help more affected women recover and re-build their lives.