Action on Fistula is led by the charity Fistula Foundation and funded by Astellas. In the three years through 2017, the initiative launched its activities with the aim of transforming the lives of more than 1,200 women in Kenya living with this condition and building capacity in the country by training doctors who can perform surgeries.
An obstetric fistula is a hole between the vagina and rectum or bladder, causing incontinence. It is caused by prolonged obstructed hard labor which lasts for several days, when emergency care is unavailable. Untreated, fistulas can lead to chronic medical problems including ulcerations, kidney diseases and nerve damage in the legs. Because of incontinence, women with fistula can be socially marginalized. They are often abandoned by her husband and family. As a result, fistulas can cause poverty in some cases. The United Nations Population Fund estimates 3,000 new cases of obstetric fistulas occur annually in Kenya.
Astellas has committed €1.5 million over three years to establish Action on Fistula. This funding is establishing a fistula treatment network, increasing the number of fistula surgeons, and significantly boosting the number of surgeries that take place in the country. The program is making progress ahead of its targets. As of the end of April 2016, the program had successfully treated 1,210 women with life-changing reconstructive surgery. One woman treated had waited 51 years for surgery.
A fourth key objective is the establishment of a major outreach program with community workers identifying patients and encouraging them to access available treatment.
Progress on Action on Fistula Program (June 2014-January 2016)
Trained and certified Doctors to the Standard Level of Competency
5 Kenyan Docters
Centers in Fistula Treatment Network
FIGO-accerdited fistula training center
Established Gynocare Fistula Center
Reached counties* of Kenya
Trained Community Health Volunteers
Conducted outreach activities
Over 3060 activities
Reached community members with fistula messages