Astellas Pharma Europe has partnered with the Fistula Foundation to support its Action on Fistula programme, which aims to treat obstetric fistula in Kenya.

As part of the partnership, Astellas Pharma is providing €1.5m in funding for the programme, which aims to improve the lives of over 1,200 women living with obstetric fistula in the country.

The funding will be used to provide support to increase the number of fistula surgeons trained utilising the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) Competency Based Training Programme.

Using the fund, a fistula treatment network will also be created across the nation, to help patients living in isolated rural communities access available treatment.

Astellas Pharma Europe president and CEO Ken Jones said the Action on Fistula programme tackles an unmet need for treatment in urology.

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"Obstetric fistula has been virtually eliminated in higher income countries yet is estimated to still affect around one million women worldwide, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa," Jones added.

"Through our flagship corporate giving programme with the Fistula Foundation we want to help treat more women living with this devastating condition.

"Critically, the programme will build capacity through surgical training so that even more women can be treated in the future."

An obstetric fistula, a hole between the vagina and rectum or bladder, can occur when a woman has a prolonged obstructed labour when emergency care is unavailable, causing either fecal or urinary incontinence or both conditions.

According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimation, about 3,000 new cases of obstetric fistula occur annually in Kenya, with approximately one to two fistulas for every 1,000 deliveries.

Image: Ken Jones, president and CEO of Astellas Pharma Europe, meets a patient at Jamaa Mission Hospital, Nairobi. Photo courtesy of Foster Communications.