Obstetric fistula is a devastating consequence of maternal birth trauma which affects women in developing countries throughout the world, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa. Obstetric fistula occurs when prolonged, obstructed labor results in pressure necrosis of the tissues in the pelvis, causing a hole between the bladder and the vagina (a vesicovaginal fistula) or between the rectum and the vagina (a rectovaginal fistula), which leads to unrelenting loss of control of urine and feces.
For the last three years, Dr. Jeff Wilkinson actively worked with the International Organization for Women and Development in Niger, West Africa. Women with obstetric fistula can be cured by specialized surgery for this problem. Dr. Wilkinson has taken medical students and residents to Niger for them to gain exposure to this work. The Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology is actively involved in Duke Global Health efforts in research and service for women with obstetric fistula and other areas of women's global health.