English Website
since June 16, 2005


Upcoming Events:

Seminar, October 6th, 2007 at
Tokyo Women's Plaza in Omotesando
5PM to 6:30PM
JY1,000 per participant,
Members free



Welcome to Fistula Japan's Official Website - English Version

Michiko Nakayama, a well-travelled small business owner based in Tokyo, Japan, founder of Fistula Japan, first learnt about obstetric fistula in 2004 through watching "Oprah" while in the States, when Nobel Peace Prize nominee Dr. Catherine Hamlin, co-founder and Director of the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital (AAFH) appeared as guest to the widely-viewed TV program.

Michiko had never heard of obstetric fistula before. That's because it doesn't get reported in Japan. When she did a quick internet search in Japanese and found that there was not much information out there, she decided it was time to start her own website.


What is Fistula? Fistula in general is an unwanted hole in any body organ and can develop in various parts of the body. Obstetric fistula here in question is a result of prolonged obstructed labour (sometimes up to a week) that often ends in the baby being stillborn as well as the mother left with permanently damaged tissues. This results in incontinence, infections and sometimes damage to the limbs.

Women, or in many cases, young girls with underdeveloped pelvises, who are left with fistula will often not only lose the baby but also their husband and even family due to her inability to keep herself clean. Many patients are illiterate and without independent means of economic support. As such, they are often left to lead a lonely, lonely life, sometimes not knowing that there might be a cure, or that they may be able to avail themselves to it without charge.

The AAFH has treated many such fistula patients since it opened doors in 1974, those lucky enough to have been able to raise enough money to come up to the nation's capital city for a repair surgery. Actually, Dr. Catherine Hamlin and her husband, Dr. Reginald Hamlin (now deceased), have been treating fistula patients for free since the 1950's.

Sometimes even called a "saint," the ever-energetic Dr. Catherine Hamlin continues to operate as well as travel widely for fundraising and awareness campaigns to this day.


Although Fistula Japan recognizes the fact that obstetric fistula is a problem in many underdeveloped countries across Africa and Asia, the fledgling organization has at this time decided to dedicate its efforts to supporting AAFH, in recongition of the visionary role that the hospital and its founders have played (and continue to play) in order to alleviate the traumatic discomforts experienced by fistula patients, as well as to be an effective advocate for them.

One of the things worth mentioning that makes the AAFH so special is the fact that individual patients are given not just obstetric care but a new life. The UNFPA's End Fistula Campaign estimates the cost of one repair surgery to be around $300, whereas, at the AAFH, the budget per patient is on the average $450. And why is that?

That cost for the AAFH includes not only the surgery and bed and board, typically two weeks, but phyisiotherapy for those who need it, literacy and craft classes as part of a vocational training, transportation costs to and back from the hospital, as well as a new dress. The hospital knows that sometimes the family has sold a cow or had to wait till harvest to raise the bus fare to the capital city, often a prohibitive amount of cash procured with much sacrifce. And what better way for a woman to celebrate the beginning of her new life than to be given a colorful new dress?

Ethiopia Liaison Office

discharged patients with their new dresses

Go To Japanese Website

We will be expanding our English pages in the near future for those of you who are based in Japan but are more comfortable reading English, as well as for members of the international community who would like to be kept posted of Fistula Japan's activities and the state of fistula awareness in Japan. Don't hesitate to contact us for further information or assistance, whether you are a journalist, activist, or an individual who simply wants to help!

June 17, 2005
Michiko Nakayama, MPH, Harvard School of Public Health
SA Scholar '97, College Women's Association of Japan
Vice President, Business Development, Maripoza Co., Ltd.
Founder and Director, Fistula Japan

Great bio from Dr. Hamlin, The Hospital by the River now on sale from Amazon.co.jp.  

Contact Us

Tokyo HQ

Fistula Japan
c/o Maripoza Co., Ltd.
1-23-13, Higashi-Izumi, Komae-Shi, Tokyo Japan
Office Phone 03-5282-3049
Office Fax 03-4496-6059
country code: 81 (dial 81-3 then local number)

Email Director Michiko Directly: