Action on Fistula

Action on Fistula

“This is the largest donation ever provided by any organisation or individual in the history of fistula,” – Kate Grant, CEO of Fistula Foundation, via Thomson Reuters Foundation


Launching on May 23, 2014, Action on Fistula was a groundbreaking partnership between Fistula Foundation and Astellas Pharma EMEA that will deliver €1.5 million ($2 million) from 2014 – 2017 to treat and transform the lives of women suffering from fistula in Kenya. These funds were deployed through Action on Fistula, a comprehensive initiative that will, over the next three years, work to deliver life-changing surgery to 1,200 women and lay the foundation for continuous and lasting availability of fistula treatment in Kenya.

The partnership announced today by Fistula Foundation and Astellas Pharma Europe is the first of its kind in Kenya and has the potential to be a roadmap for the way corporations, NGOs and citizens can join together to identify and treat the severe backlog of women who are suffering from obstetric fistula.

– Dr. Laura Laski, Chief, Sexual and Reproductive Health Branch, UNFPA

Phase One of this initiative is nearly complete. Together with our partners on the ground, we have achieved resounding success:

  • A National Fistula Treatment Network that supports routine fistula repair surgery at hospitals across Kenya.
  • Life-transforming fistula repair surgery for 2,363 women – exceeding our goal of 1,200 (as of Feb. 28, 2017).
  • The first Fistula Training Center in Kenya accredited by the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO).
  • 6 Kenyan surgeons trained in fistula repair surgery and given the tools to put new skills into practice.
  • Extensive community outreach to find and support women in hard-to-reach rural areas and facilitate access to treatment, reaching more than 477,599 community members to date.

Read the latest press release.

Learn more about our work in Kenya.

Learn more about this exciting campaign by visiting the Action on Fistula website.


Faces of Action on Fistula

  • Mwajuma


    Mwajuma developed a fistula while in labor with her seventh child. Thankfully, it wasn’t long before she met Mariam, who helped her get free treatment through our Action on Fistula program in Kenya. With her health restored, Mwajuma now has plans to start a new business so she can help support her family.

  • Margaret and Rose


    At the age of 14, Margaret was raped while fetching water at the local stream. She became pregnant as a result, and endured a difficult labor, which resulted in a stillborn baby and an obstetric fistula. An orphan, Margaret had nowhere to go, and nobody to help her through this terrible tragedy – except her sister, Rose.

  • Queen


    “When my husband saw the many health issues I had, he despised me, he called me names and always told me in the face that I was more than crippled.” She was left on her own and most of the time starving. She reached at a point that she could not withstand the mistreatment and she went back to her parents. After a few years her parents died. “I walk like a crippled woman, there is nothing that I own on this earth, I don’t have a husband, I don’t have a baby. My life is so empty.” She has said that her deepest desire has been to die a clean woman. But at Gynocare, where she received fistula surgery through the Action on Fistula program, she is happy. Here, she feels loved and valued. She knows she has a family at Gynocare.

  • Evelyn


    “It was so painful to leave the hospital with the few clothes I had bought for my baby. It was painful to walk out of the gates empty handed [without a baby] and to worsen the matter, with the leaking of urine."

  • Jacklyn


    Jacklyn is just 29 years old, but has faced enough heartbreak to last a lifetime. Born and raised in Kisii County in western Kenya, Jacklyn was raised by her older sister because their parents abandoned them when she was a small child. She was never able to go to school because she had to do odd jobs along with her older sister in order to have enough food to eat at the end of the day.

  • Fistula Foundation - Elizabeth Atieno



    Pregnant at the age of 13, Sylvia labored for two days before delivering a stillborn baby. She developed obstetric fistula, which led to two decades of shame and sadness. Then one day, she heard a radio announcement that would change her life forever.

  • Chepotyeltyel


    Chepotyeltyel is a Pokot woman from a remote, rural area in northwestern Kenya. After suffering with fistula for nearly 50 years, she was finally able to receive free fistula treatment in July 2016.

  • Mildred


    Mildred developed fistula after prolonged, obstructed labor with her second child. She endured two difficult months of life with fistula before receiving treatment through our Action on Fistula program.

  • Christine


    Despite the efforts of one dedicated doctor who rode over an hour by motorbike late in the evening to help save the life of Christine and her baby, the baby did not survive. Her prolonged labor also resulted in obstetric fistula. Her husband abandoned her because he could not stand the smell of her incontinence, but her brothers defied cultural tradition and insisted she and her five children live with them. Then, a radio advertisement changed her life.

  • Felistas


    Felistas developed fistula at the age of 17, after delivering a stillborn baby via Cesarian section. Her husband left her because he could not stand her condition. She suffered alone until learning one day that treatment was available through the Action on Fistula program.

  • Bernard


    Bernard Owino is one of six county mobilizers with Disciples of Mercy (DOM), an organization that runs a fistula outreach program in Kisumu. Before joining DOM, he worked with orphans and other vulnerable populations in the region for four years as a social worker.

  • Grace


    Grace got married in 1994, and explained that she immediately felt a burden upon herself to give birth to as many children as possible as quickly as possible in order to earn respect and stability in her marriage. This, she said, is the status quo in the rural African context.

  • Fistula Foundation - Hellen Aoko



    Margaret is 36 years old and from a very remote village in southwestern Kenya. In this area, child marriage and polygamy are very common. At 16 years old, Margaret’s parents arranged for her to become the third wife of a man more than three times her age. She tried to resist, but eventually gave in to the marriage due to pressure from her family and community.

  • Selina


    Selina, a traditional birth attendant from remote West Pokot, Kenya, helped eight women from her village get life-changing fistula surgery. And she’s not done yet.

  • Jane


    Conducting patient outreach in rural western Kenya, Jane faces a number of challenges—including threats to her life—as she travels in search of women suffering with fistula. But knowing there are many women who are enjoying life once again thanks to her efforts gives great meaning to her work.

  • Celestine


    In obstructed labor with her sixth child, Celestine was rushed to her local health facility, only to be told she couldn’t have emergency surgery until her family made a down payment. Anxious and afraid, she waited for her husband to return with the money needed.

  • Brenda



    Thanks to a newly opened fistula hospital close to her home in Kisii, Kenya, 17-year-old Brenda was able to get treatment after six months. Now that she is healed, she has dreams of returning to school to become a nurse.

  • Action on Fistula - Jane

    Jane and Elizabeth


    After suffering five miscarriages, Jane prepared to deliver her first child. But two days of difficult labor left Jane with an obstetric fistula. At home, she became traumatized by isolation and mistreatment from her husband, who had taken another wife. Her sister, Elizabeth, stepped in.

  • Cellina


    Cellina Nyasugutha is a community health volunteer with Daraja Mbili, an outreach program based in Kisii.

  • Everlyn


    Everlyn developed fistula during her second pregnancy. Shunned and stigmatized by her own family, her husband stood by her side until she received successful treatment through the Action on Fistula program.

  • Betty


    Betty developed fistula during her first pregnancy, after laboring at home for seven days. Her baby did not survive. Today, she is healthy once again thanks to free surgery provided through the Action on Fistula program.

  • Helen


    Helen went into labor with her second child about four years ago. She gave birth in her home, where she labored for many hours, completely alone without anyone present to assist her. Her baby was stillborn and she began leaking urine immediately.

  • Pastor Raphael


    The fact that he is blind has never slowed him down, and at 45 years, Pastor Raphael is feeling young and energetic. As a child, Pastor Raphael was unable to finish school as he had tend to the family’s cattle, but he always felt a calling to become a pastor and to serve his community.

  • Halima



    Originally from Somalia and now living in Kenya, in the world’s largest refugee camp, Halima has been through a hell few can imagine. But after traveling over 1,000 miles seeking fistula treatment, she is finally healed.

  • Esther


    Esther gave birth to her second child, Manuel, less than one year ago. She was encouraged to stay at home to deliver the baby, where she labored for three days with the help of a traditional birth attendant. Fortunately, she gave birth to a lively baby boy. However, after four days she noticed she was leaking urine and was unable to control it.

  • Meet Gladys



    Although she lives in a remote village in southwestern Kenya, successful patient outreach efforts helped Gladys get the treatment she needed. Now recovered, she has started a small business to support herself and her two children.

Action on Fistula News

  • Fighting Fistula in Kenya: Two women’s endeavor to end discrimination

    This post originally appeared on’s blog and highlights the work of two fistula advocates, Habiba Corodhia Mohamed and Sarah Omega Kidangasi, who are bringing hope to women with fistula in Kenya through our Action on Fistula program.     By Siegfried Modola June 18, 2015 Obstetric Fistula is a severe medical condition affecting over a…

  • Photo by Georgina Goodwin.

    400 Lives Transformed in First Year of Action On Fistula

    May marked the one year anniversary of the launch of Action on Fistula, a three year, $2 million initiative designed to make a lasting impact on fistula treatment in Kenya, led by Fistula Foundation and funded by Astellas Pharma EMEA. The key objectives of Action on Fistula are focused on three critical areas – treatment,…

  • Update from Kenya: International Day to End Obstetric Fistula

    Marking the 4th United Nations’ International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, our Action on Fistula program partners in Kenya held several events to raise awareness about obstetric fistula. Here is a photo tour: Partner: Gynocare Fistula Center Eldoret, Kenya In Eldoret, the inaugural Run to End Obstetric Fistula was hosted by our partner facility, Gynocare…

  • Fistula Foundation featured on VOA Swahili Service

    In this four-part series from VOA Swahili Service, host Esther Githui Ewart leads a discussion on obstetric fistula, its causes and consequences, and what’s being done in East Africa to address it, including the recent launch of Action on Fistula, a joint effort between Astellas Pharma Europe Ltd. and Fistula Foundation. Included in the segment…

  • Astellas Pharma Donates $2 Million

    Fistula Foundation and our partnership with Astellas Pharma EMEA through Action on Fistula in Kenya is featured in a post by The  Borgen Project, an organization focused on alleviating global poverty. By Brooke Smith The Borgen Project About 75 percent of women with obstetric fistula have gone through labor that has lasted three days or more. Obstetric…

  • Girls' Globe

    An Interview with Kate Grant

    Last week, in honor of the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, Girls’ Globe “sat down” for an interview with CEO of Fistula Foundation, Kate Grant.     1. Earlier this week the G4 Alliance launched globally at the WHA in Geneva, Switzerland – an alliance in place to improve​ access to care in Surgery,…

  • TheStar

    The Star: 3,000 new fistula cases come up yearly

    June 9, 2015 BY MATHEWS NDANYI More than 3,000 new cases of fistula are recorded among women in Kenya annually, an NGO has said. Women and Development Against Distress in Africa director Habiba Mohamed said only 500 of the patients access treatment. She said most of the patients in the rural areas cannot access treatment….

  • Voice of America

    VOA Health Chat — Interview with Kate Grant & Dr. Hillary Mabeya

    Voice of America’s ‘Health Chat’ is a live weekly call-in program that addresses health issues of interest to Africa. In this edition, host Linord Moudou interviews Kate Grant, CEO of Fistula Foundation, & Dr. Hillary Mabeya, founder of and lead surgeon at our partner site, Gynocare, about obstetric fistula and the new Action on Fistula…

  • FIGO Surgeon Training at Gynocare

    In October 2014, our Medical & Programs Director, Dr. Steve Arrowsmith, and Communications Associate, Ashley Burke, traveled to East Africa to represent Fistula Foundation at the 2014 ISOFS conference. While in the region, they also had the opportunity to visit several of our partner sites in Uganda, Kenya & Rwanda. Here is a highlight from…

  • Faith’s Story

    When Faith developed fistula at age 12, her mother left. But her father stayed. Watch this inspiring story of a father’s love and of a brave young woman whose life was transformed, thanks to free surgery via our Action on Fistula program in Kenya. Action on Fistula is a program led by Fistula Foundation, with…

  • Over 2,000 women’s lives transformed by Action on Fistula

    Fistula Foundation is extremely proud to partner with Astellas Pharma EMEA in Kenya, where together we’ve transformed more than 2,000 women’s lives with life-changing obstetric fistula surgery. Read the full press release below: Over 2,000 women’s lives transformed by Action on Fistula News John Pinching Above: On a visit to western Kenya, Astellas staff are…

  • Voice of America

    Funding Boosts Fistula Treatment Program in Kenya

    An interview with Fistula Foundation CEO Kate Grant was featured on Voice of America’s website this week. The interview focuses on the physical and social consequences of obstetric fistula and how the new $2 million Action on Fistula program will help women suffering from this devastating condition in Kenya. The story was also picked up…

  • Action on Fistula Update

    Gynocare Certified as first FIGO Training Center in Kenya Action on Fistula is a three-year, $2 million effort to treat women in Kenya who are suffering from obstetric fistula. Funded through a generous donation by Astellas Pharma EMEA, Action on Fistula will provide free surgeries to 1,200 women, provide training to expand the pool of…

  • Football for hope: Wadadia using football to fight fistula

    Women And Development Against Distress In Africa (WADADIA) has been using a football program to spread awareness of fistula to young girls and women in Kenya. “We provide psycho-social support, economic empowerment and reproductive health to women in need. Our organization also serves as an outreach tool for Fistula program, educating communities and helping find…

  • The Pharma Letter – Setting up a successful corporate giving program

    Astellas shares in The Pharma Letter the success of Action on Fistula, and the benefits of setting up an inspirational corporate giving program. Investing in a corporate giving program can be hugely beneficial, not just for the communities your organization supports, but also your business. As well as giving back to society and helping to…

  • Woman’s nightmare ends after 15-year struggle with fistula

    In this article, the People Daily writes about one woman who was healed of a fistula she endured for 15 years, through a free surgery provided by the Action on Fistula program in Kenya. The program is run by Fistula Foundation with funding from Astellas Pharma EMEA.  By Enock Amukhale Millicent Adhiambo sits pensively to reflect…

  • A Dream Realized: Gynocare Women’s and Fistula Hospital

    Last year, hundreds of supporters stepped in to help us build a hospital in Eldoret, Kenya. Thanks to an outpouring of support from one generous anonymous donor, employees of Astellas Pharma EMEA, and Fistula Foundation donors, the new Gynocare Women’s and Fistula Hospital celebrated its grand opening in fall 2016. The hospital welcomed its first…

  • TheStar

    Eldoret centre accredited by global obstetric fistula agency

    BY KENNEDY LESIEW This article was also published on AllAfrica and KenyaNews247. Gynocare Fistula Center Foundation is the first institution in Kenya to be accredited as fistula training centre by the International Federation for Gynecology and Obstetrics. Programme director Lindsey Pollaczek said the foundation will spend Sh175 million in the next three years on the Action…

  • Action on Fistula

    Over 550 Women’s Lives Transformed to date With Action on Fistula

    CHERTSEY, England, August 28, 2015 /PRNewswire/ Groundbreaking campaign ends one woman‘s 51 year wait for surgical treatment Females aged from seven to 90 years old treated for devastating childbirth injury Programme aims to treat 1,200 women and double number of trained surgeons in Kenya by 2017 Astellas today announces that, just over a year on…

  • Voice of America

    VOA Interview with CEO Kate Grant

    Voice of America features a “Health News” segment every Tuesday and Thursday hosted by Linord Moudou that discusses the latest health topics in Africa. In this edition, Linord interviews Fistula Foundation CEO Kate Grant about the new Action on Fistula program launched by Astellas Pharma Europe Ltd. and Fistula Foundation and how this program will…

  • Astellas Funds Fistula Project in Kenya

    Fistula Foundation is mentioned in PharmaTimes, in an article about Astellas Pharma Europe’s generous donation via Action on Fistula.  By Kevin Grogan Astellas has unveiled a programme designed to transform the lives of more than 1,200 women in Kenya living with obstetric fistula. As part of a three-year initiative, the company is putting up 1.5…

  • Surgeon Spotlight Dr. Liko-min

    Surgeon Spotlight: Action on Fistula Surgeon Trainee Dr. Joseph Liko

    Dr. Joseph Liko is an OB/GYN at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Kenya. Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital is the second largest referral hospital in the country and serves a population of nearly 16 million people, mainly from three provinces in western Kenya as well as some parts of eastern Uganda and northern Tanzania….

  • NTV Kenya: Fistula Awareness Campaign in Bungoma County

    Our Action on Fistula partner Women and Development Against Distress in Africa (WADADIA) was recently featured in a news segment on NTV Kenya about its fistula awareness campaign in Bungoma County. The campaign was part of WADADIA’s activities for the UN International Day to End Obstetric Fistula on May 23. Action on Fistula is a…

  • Doing Good: Taking Action on Fistula

    ANNA’S FRIENDS is a mission-driven community that works to help women all over the world. Fistula Foundation is proud to be a sponsored charity of Anna’s Friends. Read this post on the Anna’s Friends website. Today’s Doing Good instalment focuses on the Fistula Foundation as they take Action on Fistula in Kenya. Action on Fistula is…

  • Announcing: Action on Fistula

    Action on Fistula is a three year partnership between Fistula Foundation and Astellas Pharma EMEA that will change the lives of women suffering from fistula in Kenya forever. Read more about this initiative.

  • Action on Fistula Surpasses Goals

    Through a groundbreaking initiative in Kenya, more women have received life-changing treatment than we dreamed possible. On May 23, 2014, Fistula Foundation formally partnered with Astellas Pharma EMEA to launch Action on Fistula, a $2 million, three-year initiative designed to treat 1,200 women in Kenya suffering from obstetric fistula. To accomplish this, Fistula Foundation would…

  • Astellas - Action on Fistula

    Action on Fistula: New partnership a ‘game changer’ for women in Kenya

    On May 23, the United Nations’ International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, Astellas Pharma Europe, Ltd., the European headquarters of Tokyo-based Astellas Pharma Inc., announced that Fistula Foundation had been selected as the focus of the organization’s flagship corporate giving program, which aims to provide treatment to women who suffer from obstetric fistula in Kenya….

  • Extra funding to fight fistula in Kenya

    This post appeared on the website of FIGO (International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics) on June 21, 2014. US-based charity The Fistula Foundation has received a $2 million grant to support its Action on Fistula scheme in Kenya. Voice of America reports that the grant represents the largest single chunk of funding ever received by the organisation,…

  • Girls' Globe

    Life Changing Surgery for Refugees in Kenya

    In this Girls’ Globe piece, Program Director Lindsey Pollaczek shares her experience meeting women suffering from fistula in Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp. It’s difficult to imagine what it would be like to live in Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp. Located on the northeastern border of Kenya, the camp is home to more…

  • Fistula Foundation was featured in a HiviSasa article about Action on Fistula treatment services becoming available at Kisumu District Hospital. Action on Fistula is a three year partnership between Fistula Foundation and Astellas Pharma Europe, Ltd. to transform the landscape of fistula treatment in Kenya. Kisumu Hospital Opens Fistula Theatre Kisumu District Hospital will soon…

  • TheStar

    Kenya: More Centres Opened to Help Women with Fistula

    Monday, December 15, 2014 – 10:00 — BY MATHEWS NDANYI   This article originally appeared in The Star and also ran on  The more than two million women in Kenya suffering from fistula complications face long delays before treatment due to a shortage of experts and facilities. Fistula is a tear in a woman’s…

  • Action on Fistula

    Over 2,000 Women’s Lives Transformed by Action on Fistula

    OVER 2,000 WOMEN’S LIVES TRANSFORMED BY ACTION ON FISTULA Ground-breaking campaign ends one woman’s 51 year wait for surgical treatment Programme has significantly increased surgical capacity in Kenya to treat fistula Women from 43 of Kenya’s 47 counties have received life-changing care Chertsey, England [25 January, 2017] Astellas today announces its flagship programme, Action on…

  • Kenya gets “game changing” record donation for fistula treatment

     Published on the 2nd annual UN International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, this article features comments from Fistula Foundation CEO Kate Grant and Astellas Pharma Europe President & CEO Ken Jones on the new Action on Fistula program in Kenya. The story was also featured on Women’s News Network, The Guardian, and AllAfrica. By Katy…

  • Celebrating One Year of Action on Fistula

    In just one year of the Action on Fistula program, 416 women received free surgery that will change their lives forever. We are grateful to our partners Astellas Pharma EMEA for funding this program and making these first year successes possible.

  • Huffington Post: A Stranger World

    This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post.  By Kate Grant If you could send out an email to thousands of strangers around the world, what would you say? When Allie Pape finally got the chance through The Listserve — an e-mail lottery where one person each day wins the opportunity to address thousands of…

  • Campaign

    Changing Tomorrow for Women with Fistula

    Kate Grant, Fistula Foundation CEO 26 September 2014 When I entered the hospital room, the first thing I noticed about Naresia was her smile. It came easily, brightening the whole room with a joy that was palpable; her face unlined, with rounded features, looking more like an older girl than a young woman. Next to…

  • KASS TV: Fistula Day Celebration

    Media story on International Day to End Obstetric Fistula featuring Action on Fistula program director Lindsey Pollackzek and Dr. Hillary Mabeya speaking on the outreach activities and work being done to treat more women with fistula. Battling fistula