Until we get childbirth right for everyone, we are failing humanity.

Photo Credit: Rose Sulentic

Obstetric Fistula

Currently, there are an estimated 2 million women living with an obstetric fistula and somewhere between 50,000 - 200,000 new cases arise each year.

Learn how an obstetric fistula forms:


Photo Credit: Rose Sulentic

Where do they occur?

They occur in places where there is a barrier to medical care for women.

This could be for multiple reasons:

  • There are not enough skilled personnel to safely monitor labor and provide medical intervention when labor is obstructed
  • There are not hospitals with operating rooms or supplies to help women in an emergency
  • There are logistical or geographical challenges to reach medical care (e.g. women need to cross rivers, traverse mountains, or travel by foot-long distances, or women are not permitted to travel independently to get medical attention)
  • A high maternal mortality rate is considered “normal,” and women and safe childbirth is not a political priority

Most of the places where obstetric fistulas still exist are in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia.

Women with obstetric fistulas are “near misses.”

You can guess where women live with obstetric fistulas based on where there is a high maternal mortality rate. Women with obstetric fistulas are “near misses.” They could have died in childbirth but managed to survive.

If you are still with me, you are probably thinking, “HOW CAN THIS STILL BE HAPPENING IN 2020??!!”

Unfortunately, it’s happening every day.

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