Help raise awareness to end obstetric fistula Ghana Health Service

The Ghana Health Service has called on Ghanaians to help raise awareness on obstetric fistula to eliminate the disease in Ghana.


Dr. Patrick Kuma Aboagye, Director for Family Health Division at the Ghana Health Service, said this on Thursday at a press briefing in Accra, to mark the 2019 International Day to End Obstetric Fistula on the theme “Fistula is a human rights violation – end it now!”


Dr. Aboagye noted that in the era of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, where efforts are being made to achieve universal health coverage, the need for eliminating a condition such as obstetric fistula had become even more urgent.


This, he said, could be possible through increased public awareness of the causes of obstetric fistula. He advised women and girls who were affected by the disease to seek medical treatment rather than socially excluding themselves from society.


The Chairman for the National Obstetric Taskforce, Professor Anyetei T. Lassey, said obstetric fistula was preventable, its existence was a sign of global inequality and an indication that health systems were failing to protect the health and human rights of the poorest vulnerable women and children in society.


He noted that governments’ failure to provide medically indicated caesarean deliveries and timely fistula repair, violated women’s internationally recognised rights in general and reproductive healthcare in particular.


‘Poor and marginalised women of our rural and urban slum communities, who have limited or no access to modern maternal health services are the most vulnerable and the most likely to suffer obstetric fistula. Girls who are thrown into child marriages and subsequent adolescent pregnancies are also at risk,’ he stressed.


Professor Lassey, outlined four main strategic plans to address obstetric fistula. These included the prevention of the Vesicovaginal fistula (VVF) through increased access to timely emergency surgery and strengthening the system for identification and referrals to specialist health institutions for treatment.


The rest are increasing the capacity of the health system to perform surgical and repair of the VVFs and the rehabilitation and re-integration of the cured VVF patients into mainstream society.


On her part, a representative of the United Nation Population Fund (UNFPA) in Ghana, Ms Erica Goldson gave the assurance that the UNFPA would continue to work with the National Obstetric Fistula Taskforce and all stakeholders in the health sector in restoring the dignity, hopes and dreams of women and girls with the condition, who had been deprived of their human rights.


‘We commit to realigning all efforts in fighting for women and girls with obstetric fistula, and advocating for its prevention,’ she added.


Obstetric fistula is a disease in which a hole develops between the bladder (rectum) and the birth canal, which is the vagina, following prolonged, obstructed labour. This communicating channel created, allows continuous leakage of urine or faeces or both through the vagina.


According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), about 2 million women in the low- resourced setting have VVF and 100,000 cases of new VVFs develop yearly. The Ghana Health Service also estimates an annual incidence of 1,350 new cases of VVF with 95 percent of expectant mothers having stillbirths.


The WHO in 2013 set aside May 23, each year to commemorate the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula.


Source: ISD (Doris Sodjah)



Created: 24 May 2019
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