International Day to End Obstetric Fistula: Victims of obs fistula illiterate, with limited access to health services: Dr Shershah Syed

KARACHI: Countries around the world celebrated 3rd International Day to End Obstetric Fistula on May 23, with a variety of events to raise awareness of this neglected health and human rights challenge. One of the most serious injuries of childbirth, Obstetric Fistula is a hole in the birth canal caused by prolonged, obstructed labour due to the lack of timely and adequate medical care. In most cases, the baby is either stillborn or dies within the first week of life, and the woman suffers a devastating injury-a fistula-that renders her incontinent. Many women and girls with fistula are shunned by their families and communities, deepening their poverty and magnifying their suffering.

Eminent medical expert Dr Sher Shah Syed said this at a press conference he gave in commemoration of celebrate International Day to End Obstetric Fistula (May 23, 2016)at the Karachi Press Club on Monday.

Dr Sajjad Ahmed Siddiqui, Program Officer, PNFWH, Dr Mirza Ali Azhar, Secretary General PMA Centre, Dr Ahmed Bhimani, General Secretary, PMA Karachi and Shruti, Provincial Officer, UNFPA were also present.

He said that it is unconscionable that the poorest, most vulnerable women and girls suffer needlessly from the devastating condition of obstetric fistula.

He said that “These vulnerable women and girls are at the heart of UNFPA’s efforts to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every child birth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.”

Victims of obstetric fistula are usually among the hardest to reach, and are often illiterate and with limited access to health services, including maternal and reproductive health care, he added.

He said that The persistence of the problem reflects broader health inequities and health-care system weakness, as well as wider challenges facing women and girls, such as gender and socio-economic inequality, lack of schooling, child marriage and early child bearing all of which impede the well being of women and girls and their opportunities.

Dr Syed said that the obstetric fistula has been virtually eliminated in industrialized nations, as it is preventable and, in most cases, can be surgically repaired. However, an estimated 3000 to 5000 year new cases develop each year in Pakistan.

Over the last 08 years, UNFPA has directly supported more than 5000 women and girls to receive surgical treatment for fistula in Pakistan through their 07 regional centres in the country, he said adding that the campaign is based on the three key strategies of prevention, treatment and social reintegration of survivors.

He informed that Pakistan National Forum on Women’s Health is implementing this project all over the country by providing surgical treatment, trainings for doctors and mid-level healthcare providers and raising awareness on the social issues iatrogenic fistula are reported.

Pakistan Medical Association and Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Pakistan have great concern over this serious issue and demand health authorities to use their all resources to sop such practices specially PMDC and CPSP have to redesign their policies for registration and trainings, added Dr Syed.

He recalled that in November 2012, the General Assembly designated May 23, as the official International Day to End Obstetric Fistula. Events on that day will include a special observance at the United Nations in New York, with the participation of fistula survivors, advocates and practitioners who have dedicated their careers to putting an end to this devastating condition.

In addition, campaign partners and UNFPA will kick off a multitude of events around the world in support of the fight to end this grave global injustice once and for all, he added.


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