Celebrating thousands of Fistula surgeries

Dr Fekade discusses his efforts as a FIGO trained Fistula Surgeon

FIGO members around the world make a critical contribution to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal 3: Health for All at local, national and international levels.

On the frontline of women’s health in 132 countries, they donate their time, expertise, and platforms to improve the physical, mental, reproductive and sexual health of women throughout their lives.

We are proud to celebrate their contributions.

It is estimated that only one woman in 50 has access to fistula treatment. To make a meaningful contribution to addressing this global treatment gap, FIGO’s ambitious Fistula Surgery Training Initiative is training more fistula surgeons and multidisciplinary teams to provide life-transforming care to significantly greater numbers of women suffering from this debilitating condition.

Dr Fekade Ayenachew Aklilu, MD, FIGO Expert Advisory Group of the Fistula Surgery Training Initiative, FIGO Trainer tells his story:

“I believe obstetric fistula as a women’s health issue is a result of a combination of poor maternal health service provision, dysfunctional health systems, and to a level also of gender-based discrimination. These women are the ones who have unfairly undergone gross neglect and usually pass through unimaginable pain and life experiences just because they had to deliver a baby.

I am involved with FIGO as a volunteer in training and mentoring obstetric fistula surgery Fellows across Africa and Asia and as a member of the Expert Advisory Group (EAG). The EAG has been working on updating the FIGO and partner’s global competency-based fistula surgical training manual, and training and mentoring Fellows and supporting them with the supply of the FIGO specification Fistula instrument sets as much as resources allowed.

The results of our efforts to train more doctors in fistula surgery to improve the accessibility of surgical services and ethical treatment to fistula survivors, and being part of a very compassionate team with this sacred theme keeps me motivated to continue volunteering in the initiative. There is also no better satisfaction and reward as a clinician than to see how happy and grateful fistula survivors are for any help they can get.

The condition affects two million women in 60 low-resource countries, yet only 1 in 50 women has access to fistula treatment.

The FIGO training programme is very important because it is trying to significantly fill the gap in the number of fistula surgeons. And not only the number of fistula surgeons, but continuous support for our Fellows, our trainees, to scale up their skills and also enable them to go on delivering the services after they leave their training.

Celebrating 10,000 fistula repair surgeries

2019 has been the year that we have started to see the fruits of our persistent efforts since the initiative was launched as we were celebrating thousands of fistula surgeries being reported month after month by our Fellows across the globe, thus also saving one family after another".

This interview appears as part of a wider series celebrating FIGO volunteers. Find more stories here.