Home Health Greater momentum; The need of the hour to end Obstetric Fistula globally!

Greater momentum; The need of the hour to end Obstetric Fistula globally!


According to WHO, “each year, there are up to 100,000 new cases of obstetric fistula globally. This is a devastating but largely preventable health condition.

Over 2 million girls and women worldwide are estimated to be living with untreated fistulas.

WHO says, “Obstetric fistula is caused by obstructed labour that accounts for up to 6% of all maternal deaths globally. It is a hole between the birth canal and bladder or rectum.

The injury results in constant urinary or faecal incontinence, which often leads to social stigma and exclusion, as well as skin infections and comorbidities including kidney disorders.

Yet it has remained a ‘hidden’ problem because it affects some of the most marginalized people, poor, young and often illiterate girls and women in remote parts of the world.

Obstetric fistula still exists because health systems fail to provide accessible, quality maternal health care, including family planning and skilled birth attendance.

Adolescent pregnancy, childbirth at an early age, obstructed labour, lack of access to health facilities and midwifery care, and maternal malnutrition are some of the causes of the condition. Poverty and illiteracy are contributing factors.

Fistula has begun to gain international attention in the last decade. The United Nations marked its first International Day to End Obstetric Fistula on 23 May 2013.

Access to quality prenatal care which prevents obstetric fistula, is a basic right and will contribute to the improved health and well-being of girls and women and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.”

It is on the backdrop of the aformentioned that the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service, in partnership with UN Agencies, WFP, Traditional rulers, Philanthropies, Office of the First Lady, and many others joined the rest of the world to commemorate the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, dubbed “Breaking the Cycle: Preventing Fistula Worldwide.”

The 2024 Commemoration which took place in Accra at the La Palm Royal Beach Hotel on Thursday, 23 May, 2024, was mainly to advocate for and create awareness on preventing and managing obstetric fistula, create platform for youth voices and for other stakeholders to dialogue on maternal health, particularly on Obstetric Fistula and to also expand the membership of Partnership to End Obstetric Fistula in Ghana (PEFIG).

Addressing the gathering, Dr. Wilfred Ochan, UNFPA County Representative said, the novel partnership to end obstetric fistula in Ghana (PEFIG) was launched by the First Lady of the Republic of Ghana, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, on December 6, 2023. Since then, PEFIG has collectively mobilized and leveraged USD 405,000 in support of programms including reintegration of repaired clients.

Adding that, “PEFIG membership has increased from 7 to 13 including private sector banks and the media. Whiles there is a significant increase in the repair of clients, out of the 50 repairs done last year, 38 repairs happened in quarter 4 alone around the mobilisation and launch of PEFIG. This is over 200% increase in the usual annual repairs done.

There are ongoing efforts to expand the partnership to reach 20 organizations and to further mobilize resources for fistula holding homes.”

Dr. Ochan, further noted that 1,300 new cases of fistula occur every year in Ghana, and this means that their yearly campaign to end this devastating condition still needs urgent and increased efforts. There is therefore the need to take pragmatic steps to identify gaps and accelerate their efforts towards integrated fistula programming and quality health care delivery.

He said “In this regard, UNFPA continues to invest to eliminate fistula in Ghana through health system strengthening efforts including providing fistula centers with medical equipment, support for case identification, advocacy for including fistula repairs as part of routine health care services, capacity building of fistula surgeons, supporting evidence and fistula research, supporting repairs and reintegration of Clients.”

First Lady of the Republic of Ghana, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, in her address called for sustained efforts to end fistula, saying, “any woman suffering from the condition should be treated promptly and reintegrated into society.”

Pledging her continued support to the global campaign to end fistula, the First Lady emphasized the need to step up measures aimed at ensuring new cases of fistula are prevented.

She however encouraged Ghanaians to intensify the education on Obstetric fistula in the country. Adding that mul- malnutrition during pregnancy needs to be addressed, because it is the surest way to prevent obstetric fistula during childbirth.

She opined that, women must access antenatal during delivery and Post delivery, pregnancy and childbirth should be a good experience for women.

On his part, Director General of Ghana Health Service, Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, mentioned that the presence of obstetric fistula is an indicator of the failure of the health system to deliver accessible, timely and appropriate interventions.

He said obstetric fistula is highly preventable. That, “The areas we can work in breaking the chain of obstetric fistula include preventing teenage pregnancy, stopping harmful traditional practices, such as female genital mutilation, and providing timely access to essential obstetric care.”

According to him, from the WHO 2023 analytical fact sheets on female genital mutilation, gratifying that Ghana is not listed among the female genital mutilation high prevalence countries.

“But the practice has not been eliminated in Ghana and in many African countries that even have legislation against breaking the chain of obstetric fistula,” He said.

Meanwhile, a greater momentum is needed both globally and regionally, to drastically reduce the incidence of obstetric fistula, treat existing cases, and make systemic changes to save more girls and women from unjustified and undignified suffering.

Send your news stories to newsghana101@gmail.com Follow News Ghana on Google News



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

error: Content is protected !!
WP Radio
WP Radio
Exit mobile version