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Duration: 2020 to 2022
Local Partners: Despite the large population, Nigeria has just two faith based hospitals that specialise in the repair of Obstetric Fistula - Evangel VVF Centre (ECWA) & The Survive Fistula Healthcare Foundation (SHFH).

cbm New Zealand is ensuring women with fistula in Nigeria have access to medical services provided by highly skilled doctors and nurses. The aim is to raise awareness of obstetric fistula and to protect and treat young mothers from the tragedy of fistula. Without intervention, fistula can lead to chronic medical, social and psychological problems. This programme supports women during surgery and afterwards.


Obstetric Fistula occurs when the baby’s head puts too much pressure on the mother’s maternal tissues, cutting the supply of blood. The tissue dies and leaves a hole, or fistula, causing urine and faeces to leak uncontrollably. The main causes of fistula in developing countries are extreme poverty and the low status of women and girls. Malnutrition in children contributes to stunting, when the female skeleton - including the pelvis - doesn’t fully mature which can lead to birthing difficulties like fistula.

  • An estimated 2-3.5 million women with obstetric fistula are in the developing world.
  • Between 50,000 and 100,000 new fistula cases develop each year.
  • For every woman that gets treatment, at least 50 women go without.
  • Women with fistula are often excluded from daily activities, husbands frequently leave and women are removed from their village due to their incontinence.
  • Many women live with the condition for decades, unable to access the medical intervention that can change their lives.


  • Training health professionals to refer difficult births for maternal care and identify and refer patients with fistula.
  • Running campaigns in the community to raise awareness of fistula and find patients requiring intervention.
  • Running an Outreach Clinic to identify women for surgery and performing surgery.
  • Post-surgery provisioning of physiotherapy, counselling and skills training.



At just 22 years old, Victoria lost five babies in five years to miscarriages and stillbirths. If that wasn’t enough, after the traumatic birth of her fifth baby, she suffered from obstetric fistula, which occurs when the baby becomes stuck in the birth canal, tearing a hole and causing incontinence.

Read Victoria's story