International Day to End Obstetric Fistula

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2024 Date23 May 2024
2025 Date23 May 2025

International Day to End Obstetric Fistula

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International Day to End Obstetric Fistula

The International Day to End Obstetric Fistula is a global observance aimed at raising awareness about the devastating consequences of obstetric fistula, and the necessary interventions to prevent and treat this preventable childbirth injury. Obstetric fistula is a severe medical condition affecting women that causes chronic incontinence, recurring infections, and social stigmatization. This day focuses on advocacy efforts, promoting preventative measures, and ensuring access to quality maternal healthcare services and necessary surgeries for affected women.

The United Nations General Assembly officially established the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula in 2012. South Africa, like many other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, is deeply affected by obstetric fistula. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 2 million women and girls worldwide live with an untreated fistula, with 50,000 to 100,000 new cases occurring every year. In South Africa, limited access to quality maternal healthcare in some areas and lack of awareness of the issue contribute to the persistence of obstetric fistula. Efforts aim to generate greater attention, funding, and collaborative efforts to alleviate the suffering of South African women impacted by this condition.

Typical activities during the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula in South Africa include awareness campaigns, public discussions, and educational events about obstetric fistula prevention and treatment. The International Day to End Obstetric Fistula is observed annually on May 23, making it essential for South Africans to participate and contribute to the worldwide effort to end this preventable yet life-altering condition.

Facts about International Day to End Obstetric Fistula

  • The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that there are around two million women living with untreated obstetric fistula worldwide.
  • According to the WHO, about 50,000 to 100,000 women worldwide are affected by obstetric fistula each year.
  • One of the main reasons for the high prevalence of obstetric fistula in South Africa is the lack of access to healthcare facilities and skilled birth attendants in rural areas.
  • South African medical experts, such as Dr. Peter de Jong of the University of Cape Town, have been instrumental in the development of surgical techniques, training, and capacity building for fistula treatment.

Top things to do in South Africa for this observance

  • Read several stories about women who have dealt with obstetric fistula.
  • Learn more about the campaign to end Fistula and how you can help.
  • Check out your local community outreach programs. Medical organizations may offer free outreach services in rural and underserved communities, providing fistula screenings, treatment referrals, and education on the prevention of obstetric fistula.
  • Read a book about obsteric fistula and the challenges faced by South African women. Some suggestions include:
    1. Saving Mothers, Giving Life: Reducing Maternal and Newborn Mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa and Beyond by Suzanne Bell. This book discusses various maternal and neonatal health challenges, including obstetric fistula, in sub-Saharan Africa and addresses South Africa's situation within that context.
    2. Ending Fistula: Challenges, Innovations, and Resilience by Sohier Elneil and Lauri Romanzi. This book offers a comprehensive and in-depth exploration of the ongoing fight to end obstetric fistula, with a focus on innovations and resilience.
    3. Reproductive Health and Maternal Sacrifice: Women, Choice and Responsibility by Pam Lowe. This book looks into the broader issues of reproductive health and maternal sacrifice and how it contributes to conditions like obstetric fistula.

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