Fistula Foundation featured prominently in 10th Anniversary Edition of The Life You Can Save! Learn More


Please note: Fistula Foundation is not currently funding active work in Mauritania.

Why Do We Work in Mauritania?

A coup led by General Aziz in 2008 overthrew Mauritania’s first democratically elected president, and established military rule over the country that continues today. The tense political climate, coupled with major human rights issues like human trafficking and modern-day slavery, make maternal health low on the list of priorities of the Mauritanian government. This is reflected in the country’s high maternal mortality rate – 630 women die for every 100,000 live births. Poverty and the low status of women in society are also contributing factors.

Women’s health in Mauritania is uniquely affected by the standards of beauty in the culture, where obese women are considered extremely beautiful and more desirable than thin women. In the social practice of leblouh, girls are force-fed to make them more marriageable, often being betrothed or married off at a young age. Unmarried girls in their late teens face a social stigma, leading to high rates of child marriage and teenage pregnancy — both of which are risk factors for obstetric fistula. Although this is slowly changing, the combined risk factors for fistula and lack of surgical repair capacity in the country have resulted in a tremendous need for fistula treatment.

What You Helped Us Do in Mauritania

We helped fund:

  • Fistula surgeries


Cheikh Zayed Hospital, Nouakchott
National Central Hospital, Nouakchott

How much funding did we grant?

$99,500 in FY2012 (divided between projects in Mauritania, Madagascar and Malawi)

Who was our partner?

We provided grant support to these hospitals through Operation Fistula.

How did this help women in Mauritania?

While there were already some centers offering fistula repair surgery in Mauritania, women are too often unable to access treatment because of non-negotiable surgical fees. To eliminate this barrier to treatment, Fistula Foundation funded small grants to two surgeons in Nouakchott (Mauritania’s capital city) to enable them to provide fistula repair surgeries free of charge.

Where is Mauritania?

Facts About Mauritania

  • Population:3,516,806
  • Average births per woman:4.07
  • Physicians per 10,000 people:1.3
  • Births attended by skilled personnel:65.1%
  • Lifetime risk of maternal death:1 in 66(chances a woman will die during childbirth)
  • Female life expectancy:64.63 years
  • Female literacy:35.3%
  • Population living in rural areas:57.9%
  • Population living in poverty:23.4%(less than $1.25/day)
  • Surgeries completed through Fistula Foundation funding to date:9

Sources: CIA World Factbook; WHO; World Bank

We’re Making a Difference in Mauritania