Obstetric Fistula is a devastating pregnancy related disability. Fistulae are abnormal or surgically made passages between a hollow or tubular organ and the body surface, or between two hollow or tubular organs. Fistulae can occur during obstructed labour when the baby’s head exerts prolonged pressure on the mother’s pelvis. The blood supply to the tissue around her bladder, rectum and vagina is cut off, causing tissue damage and a hole. This results in leaking of urine and/or faeces through the woman’s vagina. Usually the baby does not survive.

It is estimated that 2 million young women live with untreated obstetric fistula in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa

Approximately 80-95% of vaginal fistula can be closed with simple surgery

In about 90% of cases of obstructed labour, the baby does not survive

FORWARD has been working to end obstetric fistula in Africa since 2002 through research, access to treatment, maternal health services, social re-integration and rehabilitation. You can read more about our work in Africa here.

FORWARD has carried out research and published reports on obstetric fistula in Sierra Leone and Tanzania, you can find all our PEER reports on our Resources page.