VOA News Examines Obstetric Fistula In Africa

VOA News examines obstetric fistula in Africa and looks at health officials’ efforts to prevent and treat the condition.

“Poverty is the biggest factor. Access to a Caesarean section to relieve the pressure of obstructed labor is the most common way of preventing an unborn child from pressing so tightly in the birth canal that it cuts off blood flow to surrounding tissue,” the news service writes. Side effects often include inability to control the bladder or bowel movements, and those women “are often abandoned or neglected by husbands and family. Many end up relying on charity,” according to VOA News.

Often in the places where obstetric fistula is most common, the capacity for treatment can’t meet the needs of all women who require it, according to Yahya Kane, a program specialist for the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA). Kane notes that $30 million in new funding for obstetric fistula programs across Africa was announced at the Africa Regional Conference on Fistula and Maternal Health in Mauritania.

“He says the existence of fistulas means the health system has failed somewhere. … Kane says promoting women’s rights and their access to quality health care across Africa will lead naturally to a stable political environment, economic prosperity, foreign investment, and sustainable development,” VOA News reports. The WHO and UNFPA are working with health ministries to end fistula and reduce its social stigma in more than 40 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Middle East (Stearns, 12/22).

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