Towards a Fistula-Free Future

Published on May 20, 2021

Carielle Doe/USAID, courtesy of EngenderHealth

For over 15 years, EngenderHealth, which leads MOMENTUM Safe Surgery in Family Planning and Obstetrics, has implemented USAID-supported work to end obstetric fistula, outlined in their recent blog, “Towards a Fistula-Free Future.” It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of women and girls worldwide live with obstetric fistula, a maternal injury that occurs when obstructed labor leaves a hole in the birth canal, causing uncontrollable leakage of human waste. This condition, common in low- and middle-income countries, is treatable and almost always preventable.1

EngenderHealth has implemented programs alongside communities, partners, and local and national governments in 15 countries. Though the expansion of fistula prevention and treatment programs in high-burden countries has transformed the lives of tens of thousands of women, inadequate access to timely fistula diagnosis, referral, and repair remains a significant issue, compounded by knowledge gaps, stigma, and other barriers.

MOMENTUM Safe Surgery in Family Planning and Obstetrics supports the expansion of quality fistula care, including addressing barriers to care and treatment created by a lack of knowledge and stigma about the condition; addressing the causes of fistula that result from surgery; and advancing global targets to end fistula by 2030. The project also supports surgical services for voluntary family planning, including long-acting reversible contraception and permanent family planning methods.


  1. United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). “Obstetric Fistula.” Last updated May 23, 2020.

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