Fistula Surgery Training Initiative
An obstetric fistula is a neglected public health and human rights issue.
A devastating childbirth injury that results from prolonged, obstructed labour causing 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 causing immense suffering and isolation.
The condition affects two million women in 59 low-resource countries of Africa and Asia; with up to 100,000 additional women developing a fistula every year in some of the world’s poorest and most disadvantaged communities.
Duration: 2012 - ongoing
We always welcome donations to the Fistula programme. Find out more about supporting our work.
Gillian Slinger - Senior Project Manager
Lilli Trautvetter - Senior Project Coordinator, Monitoring & Evaluation
Naomi Robertson - Project Coordinator
What we do
Training Fistula Surgeons and Multidisciplinary Teams
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 an obstetric fistula, this is totally unacceptable.
To make a meaningful contribution to addressing the global treatment gap, the FIGO Fistula Surgery Training Initiative - an ambitious multi-year programme - is training more fistula surgeons and multidisciplinary teams to provide life-transforming care to significantly greater numbers of women suffering from this debilitating condition.
This game changing programme is dedicated to building the capacities of local fistula surgeons –FIGO Fellows- and teams over time. This takes place with training placements in acknowledged Training Centres, followed by intermittent coaching visits from FIGO Trainers in Fellows’ home facilities, using the FIGO and partners Global Competency-Based Fistula Surgery Training Manual, the world’s first standardised, evidence-based tool to train fistula surgeons.
As of June 2020, there are 66 surgeons from 22 affected countries enrolled on the programme, who have collectively provided more than 11,000 fistula repair operations. FIGO is committed to expanding this initiative, to reach significantly more women in the future.
Supplying Fistula Surgery Equipment
To address the fistula equipment gap FIGO, in collaboration with Medical Aid International (MAI), supplies much needed fistula equipment to Fellows, including a FIGO Specification Fistula Instrument set, based on the recommendations of leading fistula surgeons.
A pioneering "FIGO-MedAid Fistula Equipment Alliance" has also been set up to generate bulk orders with interested parties, in order to reduce prices for all and therefore make quality fistula equipment accessible to all partners on the ground, ensuring women receive the best possible holistic care during hospitalisation.
For more information or to enquire about placing an order, please contact the fistula project team.
Recommended Training Materials:
- FIGO & partners Global Competency-Based Fistula Surgery Training Manual
- An Introduction to Obstetric Fistula Surgery
- First-steps in Vesico Fistula Surgery
- Practical Obstetric Fistula Surgery
- Global Library on Womens Medicine (GLOWM)
Application Form and Selection Criteria
We always welcome new applications from dedicated physicians who are committed to helping women with fistula. Please read the selection criteria carefully before you consider applying, and send your completed application forms to the fistula project team.
Meet some of the heroes of the programme
Our trainee Fellows and women from some of the world's most disadvantaged communities highlight the essential need for more surgeons to be trained on fistula repair, and for more health facilities to provide holistic fistula treatment services.
Here are their stories:
You can also read the following testimonies on obstetric fistula:
On 23 May each year, FIGO joins the global community to raise awareness about obstetric fistula, and to generate much needed additional support for the women affected.
Fistula is a human rights violation - end it now!