Vic­tims of obs fis­tula il­lit­er­ate, with lim­ited ac­cess to health ser­vices: Dr Sher­shah

Pakistan Observer - - KARACHI CITY -

KARACHI —Coun­tries around the world cel­e­brated this 3rd In­ter­na­tional Day to End Ob­stet­ric Fis­tula on Mon­day with a va­ri­ety of events to raise aware­ness of this ne­glected health and hu­man rights chal­lenge.

One of the most se­ri­ous in­juries of child­birth, Ob­stet­ric Fis­tula is a hole in the birth canal caused by pro­longed, ob­structed labour due to the lack of timely and ad­e­quate med­i­cal care. In most cases, the baby is ei­ther still­born or dies within the first week of life, and the woman suf­fers a dev­as­tat­ing in­jury-a fis­tula-that ren­ders her in­con­ti­nent. Many women and girls with fis­tula are shunned by their fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties, deep­en­ing their poverty and mag­ni­fy­ing their suf­fer­ing.

Em­i­nent med­i­cal ex­pert Dr Sher Shah Syed said this at a press con­fer­ence he gave in com­mem­o­ra­tion of cel­e­brate In­ter­na­tional Day to End Ob­stet­ric Fis­tula at the Karachi Press Club on Mon­day.

Dr Sa­j­jad Ahmed Sid­diqui, Pro­gram Of­fi­cer, PNFWH, Dr Mirza Ali Azhar, Sec­re­tary Gen­eral PMA Cen­tre, Dr Ahmed Bhi­mani, Gen­eral Sec­re­tary, PMA Karachi and Shruti, Pro­vin­cial Of­fi­cer, UNFPA were also present.

He said that it is un­con­scionable that the poor­est, most vul­ner­a­ble women and girls suf­fer need­lessly from the dev­as­tat­ing con­di­tion of ob­stet­ric fis­tula.

He said that “These vul­ner­a­ble women and girls are at the heart of UNFPA’s ef­forts to en­sure that ev­ery preg­nancy is wanted, ev­ery child birth is safe, and ev­ery young per­son’s po­ten­tial is ful­filled.”

Vic­tims of ob­stet­ric fis­tula are usu­ally among the hard­est to reach, and are of­ten il­lit­er­ate and with lim­ited ac­cess to health ser­vices, in­clud­ing ma­ter­nal and re­pro­duc­tive health care, he added.

He said that The per­sis­tence of the prob­lem re­flects broader health in­equities and health-care sys­tem weak­ness, as well as wider chal­lenges fac­ing women and girls, such as gen­der and so­cio-eco­nomic in­equal­ity, lack of school­ing, child mar­riage and early child bear­ing all of which im­pede the well be­ing of women and girls and their op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Dr Syed said that the ob­stet­ric fis­tula has been vir­tu­ally elim­i­nated in in­dus­tri­al­ized na­tions, as it is pre­ventable and, in most cases, can be sur­gi­cally re­paired. How­ever, an es­ti­mated 3000 to 5000 year new cases de­velop each year in Pak­istan.

Over the last 08 years, UNFPA has di­rectly sup­ported more than 5000 women and girls to re­ceive sur­gi­cal treat­ment for fis­tula in Pak­istan through their 07 re­gional cen­tres in the coun­try, he said adding that the cam­paign is based on the three key strate­gies of pre­ven­tion, treat­ment and so­cial rein­te­gra­tion of sur­vivors.

He in­formed that Pak­istan Na­tional Fo­rum on Women’s Health is im­ple­ment­ing this pro­ject all over the coun­try by pro­vid­ing sur­gi­cal treat­ment, train­ings for doc­tors and mid-level health­care providers and rais­ing aware­ness on the so­cial is­sues ia­tro­genic fis­tula are re­ported.

Pak­istan Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion and So­ci­ety of Ob­ste­tri­cians and Gy­ne­col­o­gists of Pak­istan have great con­cern over this se­ri­ous is­sue and de­mand health au­thor­i­ties to use their all re­sources to sop such prac­tices spe­cially PMDC and CPSP have to re­design their poli­cies for reg­is­tra­tion and train­ings, added Dr Syed.

He re­called that in Novem­ber 2012, the Gen­eral As­sem­bly des­ig­nated May 23, as the of­fi­cial In­ter­na­tional Day to End Ob­stet­ric Fis­tula. Events on that day will in­clude a spe­cial ob­ser­vance at the United Na­tions in New York, with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of fis­tula sur­vivors, ad­vo­cates and prac­ti­tion­ers who have ded­i­cated their ca­reers to putting an end to this dev­as­tat­ing con­di­tion.—NNI

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