We vet potential partners through a careful review process that involves the Foundation’s Program Development staff, Board of Directors, and Grants Review Committee. We also rely on our relationships with FIGO, Direct Relief and an international network of fistula surgeons who help advise on the reputations of local doctors and the specific needs that exist in different regions.
Surgeons and hospitals that receive funding are required to provide quarterly progress reports detailing their project activities and costs, surgical outcomes, and any challenges encountered. Fistula Foundation releases funds once a partner’s report has been reviewed by our Medical Advisor and Program Development staff.
Local conditions and a country’s political, economic and social climate determine what’s needed to treat women with fistula and perineal tears in a specific region.
We listen closely to our partners and respond quickly to empower them to do more. Our grants support a combination of the following areas:
Patients are usually extremely poor, having developed fistula or a severe tear in the first place because they lacked access to basic obstetric care when trying to deliver their child. The vast majority of women with these childbirth injuries cannot fund their own treatment.
As a result, the majority of funds sent to our partners directly covers the costs of providing fistula and perineal tear repair surgery. This includes pre-operative care, surgery, and post-operative care and rehabilitation.
There are simply not enough adequately trained fistula surgeons to meet the need, and the few that exist tend to cluster in big cities—far from where the burden of fistula and untreated tears is highest.
No two injuries are identical
Treating fistula and severe tears requires both experience and advanced surgical skills. While most injuries can be repaired with a single surgery, more complex cases may require several operations. It is critical that a surgeon know when an injury is beyond his or her skill level, and when to refer a woman for more specialized care.
We support certified, hands-on training
Fistula Foundation supports competency-based training through two partner organizations, Gynocare in Kenya and CCBRT in Tanzania. Certified by the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), these educational hubs provide a supportive training ground where surgeons from partner sites across our network can build skills in the evaluation and repair of increasingly complex obstetric fistula.
Effective care starts with safe, well-equipped facilities
All over Africa and Asia, in the places where we are helping, we want patients to receive high-quality treatment. Many of our partners have become accustomed to working in conditions that are less than ideal, performing surgery with aging equipment or in facilities stretched beyond capacity.
That’s why Fistula Foundation invests in facilities and equipment that allow our surgeons to work in the safest environment possible. In situations where it is not feasible to refurbish existing treatment facilities or build new ones, we are helping to launch mobile clinics to reach women in remote locations who may not otherwise be able to access care.
No woman left behind
We’re on a mission to find every woman suffering and bring her treatment. Too often patients hide their condition out of shame, making them difficult to find. And often they are unaware that treatment is even available.
By supporting outreach, we’re helping to reach the vast backlog of cases and to identify and transport more women for life-changing surgery. These efforts focus on providing:
Local health workers to educate communities: Using their deep cultural knowledge, local health workers design the strategies that they know will be most effective in raising awareness about fistula and severe tears—and ultimately finding women who need help.
Transportation to connect women with care: Many women who develop obstetric fistula or untreated tears live in remote, rural areas and often cannot afford the cost of transportation to a distant hospital.
Restoring health—and futures
Too often, fistula and severe tear survivors continue to experience emotional trauma even after they are physically healed, and have a difficult time reintegrating back into their communities and everyday life. Fistula Foundation supports a range of services to help women return to their communities with confidence, such as:
Counseling and support groups to help with the emotional impact of isolation and shame, and with issues of reintegration.
Job training to provide economic empowerment. For example, sewing classes help survivors earn an income to provide for themselves and their families.
You can transform a woman’s life
A gift of $616 provides a high-quality surgery that can cure a woman’s incontinence and restore her health.