A global leader in obstetric and fistula treatment, the Fistula Foundation has received a US$15 million gift from American philanthropist and author Mackenzie Scott.
Scott’s gift is the largest single donation in the organisation’s history and will fuel their $110 million five-year strategic plan to provide 80,000 life-changing surgeries to women in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia who’ve been left incontinent through childbirth.
The announcement comes on International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, a United Nations–sponsored event that takes place each year on May 23.
“This donation is a milestone without precedent for our team, and for our dedicated partners that work every day to heal women with devastating childbirth injuries,” said Kate Grant, CEO of the Fistula Foundation.
“Our hearts burst with gratitude for Ms. Scott’s gift. Because of her generosity, we have a vital down payment on our plan to end—within a generation—the suffering caused by fistula.”
Obstetric fistula is a childbirth injury that leaves a woman incontinent and often isolated from family and community. While it’s a condition treated surgically with a high success rate in the West, many women in poverty around the world aren’t aware that help is available or can’t afford it.
There are at least one million women– most of whom live in poor, rural parts of Africa and Asia– suffering from the condition.
Under the new strategic plan, the Fistula Foundation is accelerating their In It to End It project to eradicate the suffering caused by fistula in all countries where the condition still persists.
The core of this plan is to expand the Fistula Foundation Treatment Network (FFTN) model to five new countries to build networks of care with the goal of connecting all women with timely, high-quality treatment. It will also add 40-plus surgery and outreach organisations to its global network of Fistula Foundation Partners.
Most recipients of Scott’s philanthropy have been organisations that serve US populations, but the Fistula Foundation is among a relatively small number of recipients that pursue work focusing entirely in developing countries.
The Foundation says it applauds Scott’s donation for coming without restrictions following a process of due diligence by her advisors.
“Ms Scott is pioneering a revolution in philanthropy,” Grant said. “By providing her gift without bureaucratic strings, she’s placed her trust in us. We won’t let her, or the women we are in business to help, down. We are in it to end it, and to ensure that no woman is left behind.”