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Duration: 2016 to 2019
Local Partner: Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation in Tanzania (CCBRT)

cbm New Zealand is ensuring women with fistula in Tanzania have access to medical services provided by highly skilled nurses and doctors. CCBRT is the second biggest provider of Vesicovaginal Fistula (VVF) services in Tanzania, keeping babies safe and protecting young mothers from the tragedy of fistula. Without such intervention, fistula can lead to chronic medical, social and psychological problems. This program 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 their village due to the foul smell.
  • 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 perform surgery.
  • Post surgery provisioning of physiotherapy, counseling and skills training.



Merina is a young woman who dreamed of having a child. But her dream became a nightmare. She was in labour for over 24 hours until her family realised her life was in danger and brought her to hospital many hours away.

Sadly Merina had lost her baby boy and she sustained a fistula due to the birth complications. Find out how Merina has found new hope thanks to cbm supporters...

Read Merina's story