The GiveWell Blog

Deciding whether to recommend fistula management charities

We’ve long been interested in fistula surgery as a potential GiveWell priority program. However, as with other surgery charities, we have struggled to identify an organization that meets GiveWell’s criteria. Now, we’re working with a group called IDinsight and are excited that we may be able to consider a fistula surgery organization as a potential GiveWell top charity.

Our longstanding interest in interventions to treat fistula can be attributed in part to the popular narrative presented about fistula–the condition, which is often associated with social ostracization–appears to cause a significant amount of suffering, and seems to be treatable. We’re not sure how representative the popular narrative is, but as donors, it has contributed to our continued interest in better understanding this intervention, along with the feeling that surgery charities in general may offer low-cost, life-changing impacts.

Summary

This post will discuss:

  • Fistula management, including surgery, as an intervention.
  • Our open questions and uncertainty around fistula management programs, particularly their costs.
  • Our plans to partner with IDinsight to help answer some of our questions about fistula management.

Can a donor give “new life for the pariahs” through the World Fistula Fund?

Nicholas Kristof’s excellent column describes the problem of obstetric fistula and the World Fistula Foundation. We strongly share Mr. Kristof’s view that obstetric fistula is a pressing problem, and have written before that it’s one of the problems we’d most like to help donors address. However, we still have not identified a fistula charity that… Read More

A conversation with a donor interested in obstetric fistula

Jeremy, a teacher, recently emailed us because he was interested in supporting charities that work on the problem of obstetric fistula. Fistula is a cause that I’ve written about before and is one that, emotionally, is extremely compelling. I thought the email exchange with Jeremy was informative, so (with his permission) we’ve posted it here…. Read More