What is a Fistula?

Stories | September 1, 2020

What is a fistula?  A fistula occurs when an unborn baby’s head puts too much pressure on a mother’s maternal tissues, cutting off the blood supply. The tissue dies and leaves a hole, or fistula, which causes urine and sometimes faeces to leak uncontrollably.

In the poorest places, malnutrition can affect the growth of the skeleton, including the pelvis. This can lead to birthing difficulties, and a fistula can occur. Living in poverty also means many women often cannot afford adequate health care or have no access to it.

CBM is active in the poorest communities, raising awareness about the importance of good maternal healthcare and the prevention of birth injuries such as fistula. In remote areas, we’re also training local healthcare workers to be able to identify high‑risk pregnancies and refer those women to hospitals.

CBM is expanding its maternal healthcare program in Nigeria.

A three-year program focused on:

  • Better healthcare for women and girls;
  • Community awareness and advocacy; and
  • Training of healthcare workers in remote villages.

Nigeria has the world’s highest rates of fistula with over half a million women living with this treatable and preventable condition. Poverty, lack of healthcare access and cultural practices have exacerbated this situation.

“Women who have lost their baby during childbirth and then are diagnosed with fistula need our help and love more than anyone.” – Emelda, Head of Nursing Services at one of CBM’s partner hospitals.

“They might hide for years and years. Sometimes their husbands abandon them, leaving these vulnerable women to fend for themselves. Their communities may also reject and stigmatise them.”

“Trained midwives, doctors and healthcare workers will help identify problems during labour. They will help to deliver the baby safely, and to treat women with fistula. They will also help to inform and educate, to spread awareness of this condition, so women and girls do not need to feel isolated and alone. I’ve seen firsthand the difference your compassionate support has made to maternal healthcare programs for women.”

Your support can help improve access to greater healthcare for expectant mothers and education for women and girls.

Your gift will help:

  • Train healthcare workers in the identification, management and referral of women with fistula for surgical treatment
  • Provide greater surgical outreach to facilitate access to treatments
  • Create advocacy and community awareness on maternal and child health services, including fistula prevention and treatment
  • Promote and support emergency obstetric care and fistula treatment

Please help CBM deliver greater healthcare. Click here to donate today.

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