It highlighted nearly 5,000 new cases surfacing in Pakistan annually.
A variety of events were held on the occasion of “International Day to End Obstetric Fistula”. The events aimed to raise public awareness of the highly neglected health issue, according to health experts and community leaders.
Obstetric fistula is a major threat to pregnant women, however it is a curable and preventable disease which requires special attention and pragmatic steps from the governmental healthcare authorities. This was stated by numerous experts of maternal health, speaking on the occasion of International Fistula Day to highlight the 3000 to 5000 new cases emerging in Pakistan annually. The experts recommended steps for prevention of primitive and traditional way of managing pregnancy. If the best healthcare facilities under trained medical staff were ensured during the pregnancy, Pakistan can meet the relevant Millinium Development Goals by the end of 2015.
A senior gynaecologist -Dr Khawaja Fawad Pervez and Mohammad Yasir – UNFPA Project “Fistula” Co-ordinator, along with Provincial Co-ordination Officer – Lubna Taj addressed a news conference on 23rd May, in Peshawar.
Dr Khawaja Pervez stated that; One of the most serious injuries of childbirth obstetric fistula is a hole in the birth canal, caused by prolonged labour, due to the lack of timely and adequate healthcare. In the most cases, the baby is either stillborn or dies with first week of life, and the woman suffers a devastating injury, a fistula, which renders her incontinent. The ratio of obstetric fistula patients is increasing, as untrained midwives are carrying out the treatment, while using old methods in the pregnancy.
UNFPA Project “Fistula Coordinator – Mohammad Yasir said; “Many girls and women with fistula are shunned by their families and communities, deepening their poverty and magnifying suffering. It is unconscionable that the poorest, most vulnerable women and girls suffer needlessly from the devastating condition of obstetric fistula. These vulnerable women and girls are at the heart of UNFPA efforts to ensure safe woman and her child from this deadly disease.
The Fistula burden is increasing in Pakistan, due to cultural norms, poverty, and lack of trained medical staff, education, and inadequate healthcare facilities for pregnant women. victims of obstetric fistula are usually among the hardest to reach, which are often illiterates and have limited access to health services, including maternal and re-productive healthcare. Obstetric fistula cases mostly need to be treated surgically.
Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) and CPSP should review their all policies, registration and post-graduate trainings and develop a strict monitoring system to prevent the primitive and traditional way of pregnancy in the country.
The officials of the Pakistan National Forum on Women’s Health (PNFWH), the Pakistan Medical Association, the Society of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians Pakistan (SOGP) and Tehrik-i-Niswan also held a conference at PMA Karachi on 23rd May, to announce an awareness campaign against this disease which has devastated the lives of millions of women for no reason. This forum was addressed by Dr Mirza Ali Azhar – Secretary-General PMA and Dr Qazi Wasiq of PMA Karachi.
Dr Sajjad Ahmed Siddiqui of the PNFWH, stated that; “These vulnerable women and girls are at the heart of UNFPA efforts to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every child birth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled. Obstetric fistula has been virtually eliminated in developed nations. However, an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 new cases surface each year in Pakistan. He added that; Over the last seven years, the UNFPA had directly supported the treatment of more than 3,400 women and girls in Pakistan. The campaign was based on the three key strategies of prevention, treatment and social reintegration of the patients. The UNFPA also trains doctors and mid-level healthcare providers on this subject.
The experts also said that the persistence of the problem reflected broader health inequities and health care system weaknesses, 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.