The United Nations has observed the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula since 2013. This day is meant to raise awareness of this issue and mobilize support around the globe.
Did you know?
- Hundreds of thousands of women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, the Arab region, and Latin America and the Caribbean are living with this injury.
- Women who experience this preventable condition suffer constant urinary incontinence, which often leads to social isolation, skin infections, kidney disorders and even death if left untreated.
- A surgery can repair the injury with success rates as high as 90% for less complex cases.
The average cost of this treatment, which includes surgery, post-operative, care and rehabilitation support, is $600 per patient.
Ending obstetric fistula by 2030
2020 marked the count-down towards the goal of ending the problem of obstetric fistula by 2030, according to the last report of the Secretary General.
Obstetric fistula is preventable; it can largely be avoided by delaying the age of first pregnancy; the cessation of harmful traditional practices; and timely access to obstetric care.
Unfortunately, the current pandemic affects all these preventive measures in developing countries where obstetric fistula still exists. More women and girls will be at risk of obstetric fistula due to overburdened health systems. In addition, fistula repairs have widely been suspended as they are deemed to be non-urgent and hospitals have diverted resources to care for patients with COVID-19.
Besides, it is expected that 13 million more child marriages could take place by 2030 than would have otherwise. Families are more likely to marry off daughters to alleviate the perceived burden of caring for them, especially in the anticipated economic fallout of the pandemic.
Due to all these reasons an increase in cases might occur and new strategies will be required in the post-COVID-19 recovery period to address the expected backlog of cases.
With this possible future scenario of preventive measures in danger, now more than ever, it is important to call on the international community to use the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula to significantly raise awareness and intensify actions towards ending obstetric fistula, as well as urging post-surgery follow-up and tracking of fistula patients.