What is Fistula?
Obstetric and traumatic fistula is a condition that presents as a hole between the tissues of the vaginal canal and bladder, vaginal canal and rectum, or all three. As a result, women with fistula constantly leak urine, feces or both. Many of these woman are shunned and abandoned by their husbands, families and communities. According to the World Health Organization and other fistula foundations, some 2-5 million women worldwide are suffering from fistula. Fistulas occur as a result of obstructed labor (76-97% of cases), trauma or medical error. Fistulas are nearly obsolete in the developed world but are a huge problem in developing nations due to lack of access to cesarean sections to relieve obstructed labor. Factors that contribute to fistula development are poverty, malnourishment, early marriage and pregnancy, low education levels, political unrest, use of violent assault as a weapon, and lack of access to medical care.
Fistula is becoming a more widely addressed issue. For more information, we recommend the following:
Our video (Generating Hope in Angola)
Generating Hope in Angola on YouTube
For more of our videos, visit our YouTube page.
A Walk to Beautiful: A 53-minute award-winning documentary sharing the journeys of Ethiopian women as they seek healing from fistula. Watch on YouTube: A Walk to Beautiful
LUMO: One Woman’s Struggle to Heal in a Nation Beset by War: The award-winning film distributed by the Goma Film Project, focusing on a girl named Lumo and the work of Heal Africa. Available on Netflix.
The Illiterate Surgeon (Kristof, N: NY Times Op-Ed) – One former fistula patient, Mamitu, has become one of the top fistula surgeons in the world.
The Illiterate Surgeon
Saving the Lives of Moms (Kristof, N: NY Times Op-Ed) – The story of Mahabouba, a fistula survivor who suffered her injury at age 13 and has now dedicated her life to the work of ending fistula.
Saving the Lives of Moms
The Hospital by the River: A Story of Hope (Hamlin/Little) The autobiography of Dr. Catherine Hamlin, co-founder of Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia.
Catherine’s Gift: Stories of Hope from Hospital by the River (Little) – Contains the stories of patients who were treated at the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia.
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide (Kristof/WuDunn) – A compelling book about the injustices women suffer throughout the world, the hope that exists in each woman’s heart, and what you can do to help.
A Hole in Our Gospel: What Does God Expect of Us? The Answer that Changed My Life and Just Might Change the World (Stearns) – The President of World Vision United States calls Christians to love their neighbor by acting on behalf of the poor.
A Thousand Sisters: My Journey into the Worst Place on Earth to Be a Woman (Shannon) – Shannon’s story of her trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the launch of the Run for Congo Women movement. Please note that this book covers some very heavy subject matter.
Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women (Custis James) – A call to Christian women to be the image bearers, oppression fighters and justice seekers God designed them to be.