4 women sit on a hospital bed at CCBRT after fistula surgery.

Restoring hope and dignity – treating obstetric fistula

Country: Tanzania
Category: Improving health

Less than half of all women giving birth in Tanzania have the support of a skilled health worker. This leads to high rates of maternal and child deaths, as well as high levels of complications - which can lead to disability for the mother or baby.

Obstetric fistula is a devastating disabling condition that causes incontinence and leaves women prone to infection. It is usually the result of prolonged labour and lack of maternal healthcare. Many women affected are rejected by their husbands and ostracised by their families and communities due to stigma surrounding the condition. They often struggle to earn a living and live in extreme poverty as a result.

Women often live with fistula and the incontinence it causes for decades, unaware that nearly all cases can be treated with straightforward surgery.

We are working in Tanzania with our established partner to:

  • provide surgery and treatment to women with obstetric fistula;
  • pay for transport to hospital – as many women are unable to work and rejected by their families, this can be a major barrier to treatment;
  • provide rehabilitation and livelihood training to women affected;
  • educate communities through awareness campaigns to reduce stigma and support more women to seek help.

Transforming lives

Dorotea from Tanzania sits on a bed after surgery for Fistula. CCBRT.


“I felt [urine] run down my leg. It happened all the time and I couldn’t stop it. I would sit and not move around… I would like to say thanks a lot to the doctors and the nurses…

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Mariam, smiling, after treatment for obstetric fistula in Tanzania


“When I go back to the village, I will tell the other women: If you have the same problem, don’t hide. There are doctors who helped me, too, and changed my life!”

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