Fistula Foundation

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Fistula Foundation
FF Logo Vert Color RGB 091613.png
Founded 2000
Focus Humanitarian
Area served
Africa and Asia
Method Aid

The Fistula Foundation is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization focused on treatment of obstetric fistula, funding more repair surgeries than any other organization.[citation needed] The organization is dedicated to providing obstetric fistula treatment worldwide, and does this by channeling funds toward fistula surgeon training, equipment and facility upgrades that make fistula treatment as safe as possible, and by funding the full cost of obstetric fistula repair surgery for poor women who would otherwise not be able to access treatment. Fistula Foundation has been recognized by several organizations for its transparency and efficiency, earning a top "A" rating from Charity Watch and a four star rating from Charity Navigator for 12 years in a row.[1] Fistula Foundation has also been selected as one of 20 charities recommended[2] by Princeton Professor Peter Singer's organization, The Life You Can Save.[3]


The Fistula Foundation was founded in 2000. It is headquartered in San Jose, California. Since its inception, it has raised more than $55 million from donors from more than 60 countries. Until 2008, the Foundation supported only the work of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, founded by Dr. Catherine Hamlin and her husband Reginald Hamlin. Since 2009, the Foundation has extended its reach, having funded grantee partners in a total of 31 countries across Africa and Asia.[4] The organization funds sites in more than 20 countries.


The primary focus of Fistula Foundation is treatment, either directly through fistula repair surgeries, or indirectly through training of surgeons and the provision and equipping of medical facilities. Countries where the Foundation has supported projects include Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, Somaliland, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Fistula Foundation also funds surgeon training, growing the pool of skilled fistula surgeons with the ability to perform what can be a very complex surgery. The organization funds the FIGO Fistula Training Initiative,[5] which works to build the capacity of fistula surgeons in accredited training centers using the FIGO Global Competency-Based Fistula Surgery Training Manual. The manual is the only global competency-based standard for fistula surgeon training, and was authored by a former Foundation Board Chair, Dr. Sohier Elneil.


Fistula Foundation is run by CEO Kate Grant, who joined the organization in 2005 as its first chief executive. Under her leadership, the Foundation has grown from supporting one facility in one country to a global organization that has since funded treatment across 31 countries. During her tenure the Foundation more than quadrupled its revenue and has supported more than 10 times the number of fistula treatment surgeries it supports. In 2014, Ms. Grant was the recipient of the prestigious American Marketing Association Foundation "Nonprofit Marketer of the Year Award."[6]

The Foundation has a seven-member Board of Directors; the chair is Bill Mann. Fistula Foundation meets all Better Business Bureau Standards of Charity Accountability and has received the top 4-Star Rating from Charity Navigator for the last twelve years, placing it in the top 1% of charities nationwide.[7]


The Foundation is a partner of the United Nations Population Fund’s Campaign to End Fistula. Other partners include Women and Health Alliance (WAHA), Direct Relief, the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) and the International Society of Obstetric Fistula Surgeons (ISOFS). The Foundation was a primary funder of the Global Fistula Treatment Map.

Fistula Foundation has received funding and supplies from Johnson & Johnson. The company has partnered with Fistula Foundation for the last decade, providing more than $1 million in support.

Fistula Foundation also works in Kenya to run the Action on Fistula program, an initiative designed to treat women, train more fistula surgeons and build a lasting national network of treatment partners, funded by Astellas Pharma EMEA.[8] Since its launch in 2014, the program has treated over 2,700 women, added six facilities to a nationwide fistula treatment network, certified six new Kenyan fistula surgeons at FIGO global competency level, and reached more than 500,000 community members through outreach events designed to educate communities about obstetric fistula, how to identify it and where to receive treatment.


The Foundation was a primary sponsor of the documentary film A Walk to Beautiful which won the Best Feature-Length Documentary of 2007 from the International Documentary Association[9] as well as an Emmy for best long form documentary in 2008. The film tells the story of five Ethiopian women treated by Dr. Hamlin and her staff at the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital. PBS's NOVA is the other major sponsor of the documentary.[10]

More recently, the Foundation has been mentioned several times by Nicholas D. Kristof in the New York Times and is a featured NGO partner of the Half the Sky Movement, a movement surrounding the PBS documentary film release of the book that Kristof authored with wife Sheryl WuDunn: Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.[11] This campaign includes the popular Facebook-based game, Half the Game. Thanks to generous support from Johnson & Johnson, players of this game can help fund fistula treatment in the real world, through online actions in the game.

Comedian Louis C.K. won $50,000 for the Fistula Foundation in May 2016 on the Jeopardy! "Power Players" edition.[12] The Foundation continues to generate high profile attention through Grant's articles for The Huffington Post, as well as in major international publications, such as Ms. Grant's 2016 contribution to The Guardian. The Foundation was also featured in Kenyan television (CitizenTV, NTV) for celebrating the grand opening of the Gynocare Women's & Fistula Center, a hospital funded by Foundation's donors.


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