Political will and investment needed to end obstetric fistula

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A fistula survivor (left) helps other women with obstetric fistula through the treatment process, Chad. Photo: UNFPA/Ollivier Girard

Two million women and girls worldwide suffer from obstetric fistula, an injury caused during childbirth due to prolonged, obstructed labour without treatment.

That's according to the UN Secretary-General, who adds that there are an additional 50,000 to 100,000 new cases each year.

Ban Ki-moon warns that if this rate continues, most of these women will die without ever receiving treatment for the condition.

Dianne Penn reports.

Mr Ban said the persistence of fistula in some countries and regions is an indicator of very poor access to quality maternal health services.

The UN chief is calling for strong political leadership and an increase in investment and action to end obstetric fistula within a generation.

His call comes in a message on the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, observed this Monday, 23 May.

The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) describes the condition as "one of the most serious and tragic childbirth injuries."

Women are left with a hole, or fistula, between the birth canal and bladder or rectum.

This can cause chronic incontinence and often leads to depression, social isolation and deepening poverty.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 46″

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