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Health News of Friday, 24 May 2013

Source: GNA

First UN International Day of Fistula marked in Ghana

The first ever International Day to end Obstetric Fistula has been observed in Ghana, with a call to end the shame, isolation and the disease.

On the occasion, the Ministry of Health, the Ghana Health Service, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), have come together to highlight the issue of Obstetric Fistula to ensure that victims were treated and re-integrated into society in Ghana.

The day also coincided with the 10th Anniversary of the campaign to end Obstetric Fistula launched by UNFPA and its partners.

A statement issued by the UNFPA and copied to the Ghana News Agency said Rapid Needs Assessment conducted in 2003 in Ghana revealed that there was an unknown magnitude of fistulae cases and inadequate trained and experience personnel to handle the cases.

With UNFPA’s support in 2012, a total of 113 fistula cases were assessed and 92 underwent treatment or repairs, out of which 81 were successful giving a success rate of 88 per cent in the Tamale Fistula centre alone.

The total number of cases assessed and repaired annually is currently unknown. Yet, with skilled attendance at birth and timely access to emergency obstetric care, these devastating injuries can be prevented, and in most cases, treated.

The statement defined Obstetric Fistula, as a hole connecting the birth canal with the urinary bladder and or the rectum caused by prolonged obstructed labour due to untimely and inadequate medical care.

It said fistula repairs were being carried out in Korle-bu, Baptist medical Centre, the three regional Hospitals in the Upper east, West and Northern regions and Mankessim among others.

Every day, almost 800 women die from pregnancy related complications. For every woman who dies, twenty or more are injured or disabled. .

The victims of Obstetric Fistula are women and girls, usually poor, often illiterate, who have limited access to health services including maternal and reproductive health care. The consequences of fistula are life shattering and invariably leave the victims ashamed, ostracized and alone, thus deepening their poverty and magnifying their suffering.

“Virtually eliminated in industrialized nations, it is estimated that as many as 2 to 3 million women and girls live with Obstetric Fistula and more than 50,000 new cases develop each year, in the developing world”, the statement added.

In December 2012, the UN general Assembly designated 23rd May of each year as the International Day of Fistula; Ghana will launch it later in the year.

In 2005, UNFPA Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, and other partners, launched the Campaign to End Fistula in Ghana to address this neglected health issue and human rights violation.

This initiative repositioned fistula on the national health and social protection agenda and attracted an encouraging advocacy intervention by Miss Ghana@50 who adopted the eradication of Obstetric Fistula as her advocacy platform in 2007.