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Our Obstetric Fistula programme

Obstetric fistula is a serious complication of childbirth, resulting in painful injury and disability for the woman or persons who have given birth. It is caused by prolonged obstructed labour and leads to infection, incontinence and, if untreated, even death. Women and people affected by obstetric fistula suffer physical and psychological pain as well as social stigma, exclusion and shame. The development of obstetric fistula is a marker of a near-miss maternal death.

Fistula affects more than two million women worldwide, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia[1].

The RCOG strongly believes that no woman should have to suffer the devastating impact of obstetric fistula. It can be prevented by delaying the age of first pregnancy, ceasing harmful traditional practices and providing timely access to quality obstetric care. And when injury does occur, timely treatment by skilled healthcare professionals is essential to provide the best chance of recovery.

All healthcare professionals should take a human rights approach to the healthcare they provide, affording people the dignity and respect they deserve. Improving services in this way will give more women and pregnant people ready access to trained maternal health providers.