Pakistan is in a state of emergency when it comes to maternal health, yet prime time media chooses to ignore the 30000 women that die of pregnancy related complications yearly – 1000 each month, 3 every hour!

Perhaps the most under-understood are the female patients with the condition called a FISTULA. 99.9%, the women who suffer from are extremely poor women.
The last Fistula hospitals in some Western countries shut down in 1920s because there are no more Fistula patients there. In Pakistan, we continue to add between 4000 to 5000 fistula patients to our list of women suffering from life-threatening ailments related to maternal health.

When child birth is not done at the hands of trained medical persons or midwives and the nearest hospital is at times hours away in rural Pakistan with no roads or infrastructure and neither the money to travel to hospitals, most women deliver at home. If the labour is prolonged, which is mostly when the woman is having her first baby, the baby’s head may get stuck in the birth canal in a way that it keeps pushing against the thin wall between the bladder and the wall of the birth canal, thereby causing and tear in the bladder, or in many cases in the rectal area. Thus is formed a FISTULA, a tear through which a woman continues to leak urine or stool or both, uncontrollably.
To restore their life and dignity, a simple surgery or a series of surgeries can give these women their life back. A simple fistula repair surgery costs a mere Rs20000 ($200). But many women whose cases have become complicated need reconstruction of the bladder and a series of surgeries need more money than that, the cost at times going up to Rs 100000 ($1000). This includes the expenses of them staying at the very few hospitals that treat fistula for months required for rehab, their food, clothing, counselling and sensitization about basic things like hygiene and their rights, so that they can become guides and focal persons when they go back to their villages.
In the whole of Pakistan, only about 30 doctors are trained to do Fistula surgeries, because the patients are so poor that being their surgeon means a non-lucrative profession for doctors.


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