May 23, 2019
Thursday May 23rd, 2019 is marked as international day to end obstetric Fistula around the world and the theme for this year is “Fistula is a human rights violation – end it now!, and this year’s celebration will take place at the Aberdeen Women’s Centre, Aberdeen, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
“Every day, more than 800 women die from pregnancy-related complications, a UNFPA release states, adding that for every woman who dies, 20 or more are injured or disabled and that one of the most serious injuries of childbearing is obstetric fistula, a tear in the birth canal caused by prolonged, obstructed labour in the absence of timely and adequate medical care.
“Fistula has been virtually eliminated in developed nations, but in the developing world, it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of women and girls live with the condition.Many women and girls who suffer from fistula are ostracized from daily community life and abandoned by their husbands and families, isolating them socially and emotionally, making it also difficult to maintain sources of income or support, thus deepening their poverty and magnifying their suffering.”
The release further said obstetric fistula is preventable and in most cases, can be repaired surgically, stating the persistence of fistula reflects broader health inequities and health-care system constraints, as well as wider challenges facing women and girls, such as poverty, gender and socioeconomic inequality, lack of schooling, child marriage and early childbearing, all of which impede the well-being of and opportunities for women and girls.
It also states while significant progress has been made, far more needs to be done as most women and girls living with fistula will never receive treatment due to lack of services or because the procedure is unaffordable to them.
According to the release, this years’ commemoration is to raise awareness on the detrimental effects of fistula on women’s lives and advocate for more investment in women’s health and rights.
“UNFPA has been working to end fistula in Sierra Leone through our implementing partners, Aberdeen Women’s Centre and Haikal, who provide treatment, rehabilitation and reintegration services to women affected by the injury. Sierra Leone will join countries around the world to commemorate the day by implementing community engagement activities and celebrating fistula survivors.”
The release further stated that the objectives of the day is to celebrate with fistula survivors and recognize their resilience and dignity, engage the public to increase awareness of obstetric fistula and promote shared ownership for its eradication, highlight UNFPA’s work to combat fistula and advocate for increased political will and resources from stakeholders to end fistula.