Action on Fistula

Partnership objectives

Treat women with obstetric fistula to life changing surgery, set up a fistula treatment network to extend access to services and build a major outreach programme to identify and bring women in for treatment.

An obstetric fistula most commonly occurs among women who live in rural communities in low-resource countries. An obstetric fistula most commonly occurs among women who live in rural communities in low-resource countries. Copyright ┬ęGeorgina Goodwin / Fistula Foundation

What are the health needs and challenges?

An obstetric fistula is an injury caused by prolonged obstructed labour, leading to faecal or urinary incontinence or both. It most commonly occurs among women who live in rural communities in low-resource countries, who are not aware that help is available or are unable to reach a hospital. Women with fistula are often subject to severe social stigma due to odour, which is constant and humiliating, and in many cases drives the patients' family, friends and neighbours away. Stigmatised, these women are also often denied access to education and employment and left to live lives of isolation and poverty. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates 3,000 new cases of obstetric fistula occur annually in Kenya, with approximately one to two fistulas for every 1,000 deliveries.

Description of partnership activities and how they address needs and challenges

Action on Fistula, supported by a grant from Astellas Pharma Europe Limited, is a programme set up by the Fistula Foundation in 2014 to transform the lives of more than 1,200 women in Kenya living with fistula and build capacity in the country to deliver ongoing surgeries over the long-term. The program has successfully treated double the women it initially aimed to help, by establishing a fistula treatment network, increasing the number of fistula surgeons and significantly boosting the number of surgeries taking place in the country.

The programme has already:

  • given 2,471 Kenyan women with obstetric fistula life changing reconstructive surgery
  • significantly increased surgical capacity in Kenya to treat the condition by training six fistula surgeons
  • set up a fistula treatment network to extend access to services, with six treatment centres enrolled and providing fistula surgeries on a routine basis
  • built a major outreach programme to identify and bring women in for treatment.

Astellas Pharma Europe is now pledging its support to the Fistula Foundation as the second phase of Action on Fistula launches with an ambitious target to treat 4,500 women with obstetric fistula in Kenya by 2020. 

Summary of impact and forward looking information

From May 2017 - April 2020 Action on Fistula will:

  • provide surgeries to an additional 2,000 women with fistula and continue to build capacity in Kenya to deliver ongoing treatment
  • extend its treatment network to up to eight treatment centres
  • train a further six surgeons at the Gynocare Women’s and Fistula Hospital in Kenya, including clinicians from outside the country to build capacity across sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia
  • train 10 fistula nurses to support women through their treatment journey
  • establish 20 support groups throughout Kenya to provide recovering fistula patients with psychosocial assistance, economic empowerment and income-generating activities to help enable survivors to return to their communities.

Measurement of progress towards objectives

  • Estimated overall value of partnership: Through the commitment and skill of the Fistula Foundation working to train surgeons and mobilise outreach teams on the ground in Kenya, Action on Fistula has transformed the lives of more than double the number of women it initially set out to support.
  • Estimated amount of people impacted: Target to treat 4,500 women with obstetric fistula in Kenya by 2020.

Videos

Action on fistula campaign video

Partnership information

Company(ies) Astellas

Partner(s) Fistula Foundation

Type of Partner(s) NGOs

Therapeutic Focus Non-Communicable Diseases, Women and Children's Health

Disease(s) Children's Health, Fistula, Obstetrics, Women's Health

Program Type(s) Availability of Treatment - Surgery, Health System Infrastructure - Outreach & Medical Services, Health System Infrastructure - Training, Prevention Programs - Awareness & Outreach

Targeted Population(s) Marginalised / Indigenous People, Mothers, Patients in needs of treatment, Women

Region(s) Sub-Saharan Africa

Number of Countries 1

Country(ies) Kenya

Start Date 2014

More information Action on Fistula Ending Fistula

Anticipated completion date 2020

« Our partnership with Astellas has enabled us to transform the treatment landscape in Kenya from hospitals that worked largely in a vacuum to a country-wide network offering regular fistula treatment. »

Kate Grant, CEO, Fistula Foundation