Applying to the FIGO Fistula Surgery Training Initiative

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 for women suffering from obstetric fistula in some of the world’s most underserved communities.

Please note, we presently accept between 12 and 16 new FIGO Fellows annually. The training programme is very popular and places are usually filled very quickly. Currently, applications from francophone West Africa and Portuguese-speaking African countries are under-represented and we strongly encourage surgeons originating from this region to apply.

How to apply to the Fistula Surgery Training Initiative

As a FIGO Fellow

We welcome applications from dedicated medical doctors who are committed to helping women with obstetric fistula. Please read the selection criteria carefully before applying. If you are confident you meet the criteria, please send a completed application form to the fistula project team.

Kindly note that:

  • We do not accept applications from residents living and practising outside of fistula affected countries.
  • We welcome applications from surgeons with varying degrees of experience in fistula surgery, whether they have provided 20 or over 800 fistula repairs when they apply.
  • Apart from rare exceptions, we do not accept applications from surgeons who have never been involved in the care of fistula patients or have never performed a fistula repair.

As part of a multi-disciplinary team

We are also delighted to receive applications from a variety of multi-disciplinary team members such as nurses, physiotherapists, rehabilitation staff and programme managers, all of whom are essential in providing holistic care for fistula patients. Before applying, with your hospital team, please discuss your facility’s fistula care needs and then apply as a team, with each team member submitting their CV and a letter of motivation to the fistula project team.

What to expect during the training?

Initial training placements, lasting between four to six weeks for Fellows and two to four weeks for teams, are held in busy, established fistula treatment centres/FIGO Training Centres in Africa. In each Training Centre, the training is led by FIGO trainers who are expert fistula surgeons and with their teams who have decades of experience in providing fistula treatment, as well as training of all cadres of clinical staff in the holistic care of fistula patients.

FIGO Fellows follow a standardised curriculum, the FIGO Fistula Surgery Training Manual (2022), which facilitates the smooth transition from theory to practice, methodically building a Fellow’s competencies over time in surgical fistula repairs and care. A printed copy of the training manual, as well as other educational materials, is given to each Fellow upon arrival in the Training Centre.

Members of multi-disciplinary teams acquire their specialised skills with the support of key resources and by accompanying their respective counterparts in FIGO Training Centres.

Important information for successful applicants

  • FIGO will cover the costs for training, travel and accommodation, unless Fellows and team members already have an identified sponsor.
  • For successful applicants (both Fellows and multidisciplinary team members), it is likely they will be required to apply for medical registration in the country where the training will take place because the Training Centre may not be in their country of origin. The project team provides all necessary support to successful applicants for medical registration and any additional administrative processes.

What can Fellows expect after their initial training placement?

  • Initial training placements are the entry point to the programme, after which Fellows will be provided with intermittent ongoing coaching sessions with FIGO Trainers.
  • Fellows will have access to live online training sessions four to six times a year, facilitated by FIGO Trainers. 
  • Fellows can apply to the project team for material support in the form of equipment, such as fistula instrument sets and head torches, as well as financial support to safely increase their fistula repair numbers.