Dr Shirley with some of the team at the new Fistula Centre in Surkhet

Fistula Centre Opens

The Fistula Centre Moves from Dream to Reality

Celebrations as Fistula Centre Opens

A long awaited dream has finally been realised with the official opening of the fistula centre in Surkhet, mid west Nepal, over the weekend.

The purpose built facility will build on the work of INF gynaecologist Dr Shirley and her dedicated team. They have tirelessly provided life-changing surgery, treatment and care to women with obstetric fistula for many years. Until now, this has been done through INF’s outreach medical camps. Now there is a purpose built centre available all year round.

Where the vision began

Dr Shirley worked in Papua New Guinea before moving to Nepal after hearing women there were developing obstetric fistulae from long and protracted childbirth, with little being done to help them.

After moving to Nepal Shirley met a young woman called Suwa. Suwa had been married at just 14 and by her next birthday she had a fistula – a tear that creates a hole between the birth canal and the bladder. This leads to incontinence. Suwa was devastated and felt as though there was no hope for her future.

However after Dr Shirley operated on Suwa’s fistula she recovered, became dry, and went on to remarry. Later she was able to deliver a healthy baby.

It was Dr Shirley’s encounter with Suwa that sparked her dream for a dedicated fistula centre in the mid-west of Nepal to help women suffering the stigma and discrimination of obstetric fistula.

Overcoming the challenges

The journey to build the centre has been long and not without its challenges. The devastating earthquake of 2015, and the blockade on the Indian border, created difficulties in importing building materials. The ongoing road strikes, visa issues and other challenges provided even more hurdles.

In the Nepali Spring of 2018 the building work on the fistula centre was completed. It was built in a partnership between INF and the mid-western government hospital in Surkhet. The centre was handed over for the government to run in May 2018 and the ongoing partnership will be crucial to the centre’s success in helping women in need.

Nepali fistula surgeons from across Nepal traveled to Surket for the opening of the centre, all sharing a passion for transforming the lives of women suffering from obstetric fistula.