Now more than ever

Together, we can eradicate the suffering caused by obstetric fistula.

We’re on a mission to end fistula globally, one woman at at time.

At its founding in 2000, Fistula Foundation supported only one hospital in Ethiopia. But we knew that there were at least a million women across Africa and Asia who were living in misery.

On February 27, 2009, we officially expanded our mission to fight fistula globally. A decade out—because of exceptional support from people like you—we are helping more than 15 times as many women as we were in 2009.

Today, we are the undisputed leader in fistula treatment, with no other organization helping more women in more places, and our path-breaking treatment networks in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, and Zambia are thriving. 

In recent years, we are increasingly finding and treating women suffering from severe perineal tears, a childbirth injury that leaves a woman incontinent of feces. Today helping women with this devastating condition accounts for approximately 20% of the repair surgeries we provide.

How did Fistula Foundation start?

Fistula Foundation was founded in 2000 as an all-volunteer organization to support the pioneering Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia.

Our success between 2004 and 2008 enabled us to dramatically expand our mission in 2009  to fight fistula globally. As a result of this rapid expansion, we have now supported treatment for fistula and severe perineal tears at sites in 33 countries across Africa and Asia. We fund more obstetric fistula surgeries globally than any other organization.

How has the Foundation’s work evolved since 2009?

The first place we went outside of Ethiopia was the Democratic Republic of Congo, an area known as “the worst place on earth to be a woman”. We partnered with Dr. Denis Mukwege. Today Mukwege is our longest standing partner, and we were delighted when he won the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for his important work.

Since then, our ‘true north’ for providing high-quality fistula surgery has been amplifying the efforts of local doctors and hospitals, operating where the need is greatest. We rely on the expertise of our partner surgeons, nurses, and outreach workers to provide care that is high-quality, respectful, and effective. Learn about how we work

Today, after a decade of successful partnership, Fistula Foundation is now funding more surgeries for more women than any other organization in the world. Since expanding in 2009, we have supported 150 sites in 33 countries. Learn about where we work

As of February 2023, we have provided more than 75,000 life-changing surgeries.

Our bottom line is always the number of women we’re able to help.

With leadership comes responsibility

To appreciate the role that Fistula Foundation has come to play, it is important to understand the changing landscape of organizations working to address this devastating condition.

United Nations recedes

The UN Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) was an early champion of fistula treatment with their pioneering “Campaign to End Obstetric Fistula.” Their team in New York has done an inspired job keeping obstetric fistula on the UN’s agenda, passing in 2018 a sweeping and comprehensive resolution at the General Assembly. Despite this momentum, funding to support the resolution has fallen dramatically over the last decade and is insufficient to support the UN’s stated goals.

USAID funding is ending 

On June 30, 2019, the 12-year US government/USAID funded program called Fistula Care, managed by the NGO Engender Health, will come to an end. The funding for this program over 12 years has totaled more than $100 million. Sixteen hospitals in five countries that depended on this funding will lose it. 

We’ve had discussions with the head of the Fistula Care program about potentially funding these hospitals. The U.S. government has a variety of regulations which make their programs much more expensive to administer than ours. 

Declining government funding has put more demands on our work. Now more than ever, your support ensures women receive the care they need.

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