International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, MAY 23

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International Day to End Obstetric Fistula 2015

On 23 May 2015, the United Nations, Member States, partners of the Campaign to End Fistula and others around the globe will mark the annual International Day to End Obstetric Fistula.

fistula-The Latin word fistula (UK /ˈfɪstjʊlə/ or US /ˈfɪstʃələ/ or /ˈfɪʃtʃələ/, plural fistulas /-ləz/ or fistulae /-li/ or /-laɪ/) literally means tube or pipe.

In medicine, a fistula is an abnormal connection between two hollow spaces (technically, two epithelialized surfaces), such as blood vessels, intestines, or other hollow organs.

Fistulas are usually caused by injury or surgery, but they can also result from an infection or inflammation. Fistulas are generally a disease condition, but they may be surgically created for therapeutic reasons.

Obstetric fistula is one of the most serious and tragic injuries that can occur during childbirth. It is a hole between the birth canal and the bladder or rectum caused by prolonged, obstructed labour without treatment.

The condition typically leaves women incontinent, and as a result they are often shunned by their communities. Sufferers often endure depression, social isolation and deepening poverty. Many women live with the condition for years – or even decades – because they cannot afford to obtain treatment.

An estimated 2 million women in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, the Arab region, and Latin America and the Caribbean are living with this injury, and some 50,000 to 100,000 new cases develop each year. Yet fistula is almost entirely preventable. Its persistence is a sign that health systems are failing to meet women’s essential needs.
The Campaign to End Fistula, launched by UNFPA and partners in 2003 is now present in 50 countries across Africa, Asia and the Arab region.

In its resolution A/RES/67/147, the General Assembly calls on the international community to use the International Day to significantly raise awareness and intensify actions towards ending obstetric fistula.

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An obstetric fistula is a hole between the vagina and rectum or bladder that is caused by prolonged obstructed labor, leaving a woman incontinent of urine or feces or both.

For women with obstructed labor, labor that goes unattended, the labor can last up to six or seven days. The labor produces contractions that push the baby’s head against the mother’s pelvic bone. The soft tissues between the baby’s head and the pelvic bone are compressed and do not receive adequate blood flow. The lack of blood flow causes this delicate tissue to die, and where it dies holes are created between the laboring mother’s bladder and vagina and/or between the rectum and vagina. This is what produces incontinence in a fistula patient.

Who It Happens To

Obstetric fistula most commonly occurs among women who live in undeveloped countries, who give birth without any access to medical help. If a woman’s labor becomes obstructed, she could remain in excruciating pain for days before her baby is finally dislodged. Her baby likely dies and she is often left with an obstetric fistula, a small hole created by constant pressure from the fetus, which renders her incontinent.

Fistula Foundation does one thing and we do it well: treat obstetric fistula. Funding from our generous donors allows us to provide our partners in the field with human and financial resources that enable as many women as possible to receive the treatment they need. Our partners are carefully vetted and every site we fund is coordinated and staffed by local nurses, heroic doctors and care workers who understand the community and understand how to provide the best care possible to the women they treat.

The need for fistula treatment is tremendous and this is a challenge we cannot face alone. We consider ourselves very fortunate to be able to work with not only stellar partners in the field, but with a host of organizations and corporations that bring invaluable knowledge, expertise and even funding to the table.

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