INTERNATIONAL DAY TO END OBSTETRIC FISTULA
Every year on May 23rd, the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula raises awareness of this medical issue and mobilizes worldwide support for child-bearing women.
An obstetric fistula is an abnormal opening between a woman’s genital tract and their rectum. One of the primary causes of a fistula is obstructed labor. This is also known as labor dystocia. Obstructed labor occurs when an unborn baby is physically blocked from exiting the pelvis. Other causes of obstetric fistulas include prolonged labor, poor access to medical care, malnutrition, and teenage pregnancy.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), obstetric fistula affects up to 100,000 women a year. Most of these women live in poverty. About 2 million young women in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, the Arab States region and Latin America have untreated obstetric fistulas. These women suffer from incontinence, social segregation, shame, and other health issues. For some, the condition is fatal.
Obstetric fistulas are largely avoided by delaying the age of having a baby and timely access to obstetric care. During obstructed labor, a C-section can help prevent obstetric fistula. A simple surgery treats obstetric fistulas. The surgery costs about $600. Sadly, many women needing this surgery cannot afford it.
HOW TO OBSERVE DAY TO END OBSTETRIC FISTULA
Many health organizations hold fundraisers and use mobile van campaigns to spread awareness for this day. To participate, donate to an organization, such as Pathfinder International. This organization helps provide adequate care for pregnant women living in poverty. You can also donate to one of the following organizations that are working to end fistula:
- Campaign to End Fistula
- Fistula Foundation
- Operation Fistula
You can also read stories and watch videos of women who have received successful treatment for this condition. Spread awareness on social media with #DayToEndObstetricFistula or #EndFistulaNow.
INTERNATIONAL DAY TO END OBSTETRIC FISTULA HISTORY
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and its partners launched the Campaign to End Fistula in 2003. The goal of this collaborative initiative was to prevent obstetric fistula and restore the health of those affected by it. In 2012, the UN announced May 23rd as the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula. The first observance was held in 2013.