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

6 centers

FIGO-accerdited fistula training center

Established Gynocare Fistula Center

Reached counties* of Kenya

39 counties

Trained Community Health Volunteers

186 Volunteers

Conducted outreach activities

Over 3060 activities

Reached community members with fistula messages

142,000 members

*Kenya is divided into 47 counties. There are several units of governance below the county level.
These units include sub-counties, wards, and villages.