Capacity Building for Fistula Treatment and Prevention in Mali (Fistula Mali)

In Mali, a combination of high fertility, low use of modern contraceptive methods, early marriage, and low rates of facility-based births puts up to 2,400 women at high risk of obstetric fistula* each year.

Women living with untreated fistula are often shamed, isolated from their communities, and left to live in poverty. Many Malian women—and even health workers—do not know that fistula can be treated, and often cured. But fistula services and treatment are difficult to come by in Mali, especially for complex cases.

That’s why the Capacity Building for Fistula Treatment and Prevention in Mali project is making fistula repair services available within more health facilities in Mali, and building the capacity of health workers to diagnose, treat, and prevent the condition effectively. IntraHealth is also increasing community knowledge and reducing stigma related to fistula by conducting campaigns in each region of the country.

This project builds on the previous successes of the USAID-funded Fistula Care Project, during which IntraHealth trained 13 surgeons to perform simple repairs and provided repair surgeries to 460 Malian women. 

Project initiatives

  • Increase the number of surgeons in Mali who can perform fistula repair surgeries.
  • Prepare selected health facilities to offer fistula treatment and prevention services on a routine basis.
  • Recruit and transport clients for fistula repair campaigns in each region of Mali.
  • Provide psychosocial support for fistula clients.
  • Reduce community stigma toward fistula and the women suffering from it.
  • Increase community knowledge about the cause, treatment, and prevention of obstetric fistula.

Learn more about the success of the previous Fistula Care Project and see the lives it changed. 

* Obstetric fistula is a childbirth injury that commonly occurs when labor goes on for 24 hours or longer. When the tissues between the baby’s head and the mother’s pelvis become compressed, blood flow to her bladder and rectum are cut off. Within three to 10 days, the tissue sometimes dies and creates an opening—called a fistula—between the vagina and bladder and/or rectum. The result can be chronic incontinence and sometimes severe nerve damage.