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United Nations Population Fund and partners celebrate International Day to end obstetric fistula in Pakistan

Karachi, May 22, 2014 (PPI-OT): On the occasion of the “Second International Day to End Obstetric Fistula” in Pakistan, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) working with its partners and in collaboration with the Government of Pakistan announced ambitious plans to address the socially neglected health problem of obstetric fistula.

This International Day comes with the theme of “Tracking Fistula – Transforming Lives,” reflects an important step forward in eradicating this preventable condition, which affects an estimated two million women and girls in developing countries.

Obstetric fistula is a preventable and treatable childbirth in jury that results from prolonged, obstructed labour particularly in poor, rural areas where emergency obstetric care is too distant or simply unavailable.

An estimated two to three and half million women in developing countries live with the devastating effects of obstetric fistula, and at least 50,000 and 100,000 new cases occur each year according to data from UNFPA. It is estimated that 3,500 known cases of obstetric fistula occur annually in the rural areas and urban slums in Pakistan. Many more go unreported and uncounted therefore untreated.

The impact of untreated fistulae on the lives of women is devastating. Women are left with incontinence, chronic pain and sexual dysfunction which often lead to social isolation and stigma. Further impacts c an include loss of financial support, the inability to work and divorce pushing many women further into poverty.

Preventing and treating obstetric fistulae is a priority issue for UNFPA as part of its commitment to sexual and reproductive health and right s through three key strategies of prevention, treatment and social reintegration. With support from UNFPA, 47,000 women and girls have undergone fistula repair surgery globally.

Over the last five years the collective efforts of the UNFPA’s campaign have treated 3,423 fistula cases, rehabilitated 239 fistula patients and trained 379 health professionals to treat and manage fistula and postpartum complications in Pakistan.

Today’s event included several fistula survivors, women who have been successfully treated for obstetric fistula. “All doctors told me that this condition is non curable” said Mehak of Karachi, who lived with fistula for five months after the birth of her first child at age 20. “Fortunately, I heard the name of Koohi Goth Fistula Hospital…. where I had three steps surgical procedures now I am fine….and I am able to continue my life as before”.

There has been considerable progress but long ways to go before needs in Pakistan are met. This will require long term strategy with the government, civil society, international agencies, health professionals, the private sector, media and communities working together to eliminate obstetric fistula globally and in Pakistan.

“The time has come to put an end to obstetric fistula and address the circumstances that perpetuate it, including poverty, lack of access to health care, child marriage and early childbearing. We have the resources and know – how” said Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin Executive Director of UNFPA.

“What we need now is the political will to elevate the status of women and girls, rectify inequalities and protect the human rights of every woman and girl, so that fistula may never again undermine a person’s health, well – being, dignity and ability to participate in and contribute to their com munities”

Ann Keeling Representative of UNFPA, Pakistan said “We cannot accept the preventable pain and misery caused to mothers by obstetric fistulae in Pakistan. We now need collective actions with a national fistula programme integrated into the reproductive health service framework supported by partners from all sectors. Progress made on fistula in Pakistan to date shows that we have solutions and know what to do”

For more information, contact:
Muhammad Ajmal
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
2-L Serena Business Complex,
Islamabad Serena Hotel,
Tel: +92-51-8355742
Fax: +92-51-8355966
Cell: +92-300-5001724
Email: ajmal@unfpa.org
Web: www.unfpa.org

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