Afghanistan

Against a backdrop of violence, a heroic team of all-female surgeons in Afghanistan are delivering life-changing surgeries to women in need.

Why We Work in Afghanistan

Afghanistan has been deemed one of “the worst places in the world to give birth.” Delivering a baby here can be a life or death event. With only 50% of births attended by a skilled medical professional, Afghanistan has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. Every thirty minutes another Afghan woman dies during childbirth, and for every woman who dies, it is estimated that 20 more survive with significant injuries, such as obstetric fistula.

The threat to women’s health—and maternal health in particular—have been made worse by the country’s social and political realities. Decades of war and instability have devastated Afghanistan’s health care infrastructure.  Moreover, in Afghan culture, it is widely considered improper for a woman to be treated by a male doctor. If there are no female doctors available, she may receive no treatment at all. For a woman with fistula, this could mean living in misery for the rest of her life. Practices such as early marriage and a lack of female education—only 24% of women are able to read and write—further undermine women’s ability to access care.

While conditions for women have started to improve in recent years, there remains an acute need to build the healthcare capacity for fistula treatment. Training female surgeons and other medical staff is critical to the success of any long-term solution.

What You Help Us Do

We are investing in the following areas to build Afghanistan’s in-country medical services and provide life-transforming surgery to as many women as possible:

Meet Our Partners

We are currently partnering with Cure International Hospital, Kabul to deliver fistula treatment to women in Afghanistan. CURE International employs a dedicated, all-female team of fistula surgeons to help women in need who face multiple, gender-based obstacles to accessing fistula treatment.

What projects are we currently funding

CURE’s culturally sensitive approach helps each woman feel at ease from the moment she arrives at the hospital. And, her family can rest assured that only female doctors will conduct examinations and treatment.

At CURE’s hospital, five OB/GYN fellows are in training at all times—women training women. They also train midwives, nurses and health workers who travel out isolated villages to find women who would otherwise fall through the cracks.

How much funding have we granted?

Cure International Hospital, Kabul

  • Pending grant for FY2019
  • $261,716 in FY2018
  • $205,847 in FY2017
  • $52,000 in FY2016
  • $195,162 in FY2015
  • $375,851 in FY2014
  • $144,549 in FY2013
  • $38,068 in FY2012
  • $110,480 in FY2011
  • $64,975 in FY2010
  • $135,274 in FY2009

News from the Field

In Afghanistan, Fistula Experts Train More Than 140 Healthcare Workers  •  January 27, 2021
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Despite a challenging year, our partners in Afghanistan have been steadfast in their efforts to expand fistula care throughout the country. In the final months of 2020, experts from Fistula...
Despite a challenging year, our partners in Afghanistan have been steadfast in their efforts to expand fistula care throughout the country. In the final months of 2020, experts from Fistula Foundation’s trusted partner—Cure Hospital, a Be Team International facility in the capital city of Kabul—traveled to visit rural outposts in multiple isolated provinces. Amidst travel complications and security concerns, our partners successfully completed their mission: to train scores of rural health care workers in the signs and symptoms of obstetric fistula. These newly-trained workers are now equipped to identify women with fistula in their isolated communities, and send them to Cure’s main hospital in Kabul for treatment.
Campaign for Afghanistan - You Did It!  •  November 15, 2018
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You helped raise over $200,000 for women in need. You are changing lives! Thanks to over 300 kindhearted supporters like you, we fulfilled our $200,000 pledge to support vital fistula...
You helped raise over $200,000 for women in need. You are changing lives! Thanks to over 300 kindhearted supporters like you, we fulfilled our $200,000 pledge to support vital fistula care in Afghanistan. Because of your compassion, CURE International’s dynamic, all-female fistula team can continue their critical work, filling an acute need for more female doctors in Afghanistan. “I would like to express my gratitude to Fistula Foundation donors for their continuous support of our patients. Without their help, we are not able to serve these unfortunate mothers.” — Dr. Sofia Hail, lead fistula surgeon We would also like to extend a special thanks to our anonymous challenge donors, who matched $100,000 in gifts to the campaign. We couldn’t have kept this promise to CURE International without you!        
Out of the Margins #4 - Afghanistan's fierce, female fistula surgeons  •  February 22, 2018
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A team of fierce, all-female fistula surgeons are taking a stand in Kabul, Afghanistan. There is an acute need for female doctors in Afghanistan. Cultural norms often prevent women from...
A team of fierce, all-female fistula surgeons are taking a stand in Kabul, Afghanistan. There is an acute need for female doctors in Afghanistan. Cultural norms often prevent women from seeing male physicians, and it is common for a woman to go untreated unless she can see a female doctor. The all-female fistula team at CURE International Hospital is stepping up to meet this need. Five OB/GYN fellows are in training at all times—women training women.
Meet Gul From Afghanistan  •  September 24, 2013
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Gul lives in Afghanistan. At 13 years old, her father arranged for her to marry an older man who had another wife, and after one year of marriage, Gul became...
Gul lives in Afghanistan. At 13 years old, her father arranged for her to marry an older man who had another wife, and after one year of marriage, Gul became pregnant. When she went into labor, it lasted for two days. There were no clinics or doctors where she lived and Gul's husband became worried. He took her to her father's house, where Gul's father killed a sheep and placed the sheepskin on her as part of a traditional treatment used in her area. After three days of wearing the sheepskin, Gul delivered a stillborn baby.

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