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.  

Project Contacts:

Gillian Slinger - Senior Project Manager

Lilli Trautvetter - Senior Project Coordinator, Monitoring & Evaluation

Naomi Robertson - Project Coordinator

General Enquiries

Supported by:

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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:

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:

Mrs Suku & Dr Ganesh Dangal, Nepal.

 Dr Homa Dost, Afghanistan.

Dr Kenny Raha, DRC.

You can also read the following testimonies on obstetric fistula:

Dr Nrinmoy Biswas - why fistula surgery is not an easy job

Three women who can now rebuild their lives in Bangladesh after fistula surgery

Join the International Day to End 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.

Visit our campaign page for an excellent range of resources including authentic stories, graphics and social media assets to help you call attention to the 2019 International Day to #EndFistula

Fistula is a human rights violation - end it now!