On the 23th of May 2022, Citizens in Action Southern Africa (CIASA) joins the rest of the world to observe and celebrate the international day to end obstetric fistula under the theme “End fistula now, Invest in quality healthcare, empower communities” which has been set aside to raise awareness about the problem of fistula and the urgent need to end it by investing in quality health care and through empowering communities. The day also aims to recognize the struggles of women and girls living with fistula and to reflect on the efforts that governments, maternal health stakeholders, healthcare workers and partners are making to prevent and end fistula, making progress towards a global goal of ending fistula by 2030. The theme for this year reflects an urgent need to end the problem which is said by UNFPA is affecting an estimated number of 500, 00 women and girls especially in developing countries. Obstetric fistula shows global inequalities in access to health care and basic human rights for most of the women who develop fistula, a hole in the birth canal usually caused by prolonged obstructed labour remain untreated for the rest of their lives.
Citizens In Action Southern Africa (CIASA) recognizes that obstetric fistula is not just a maternal health issue but also a human rights issue hence by treating the problem, other inequalities that women disproportionately experience including isolation, discrimination, stigma can be addressed. Equally important in fighting obstetric fistula is the urgent need for governments, communities and NGO sector to address the circumstances that perpetuate it which include poverty, early child bearing, child marriage and lack of access to health care. This year’s theme is a call to individuals, communities, organizations, stakeholders and governments throughout the global south to work collectively towards eliminating the health crisis of obstetric fistula which requires countries’ capacities to provide access to equitable, high quality sexual and reproductive services including maternal health care.
It is crucial to note that Sustainable development Goals (SDGs) cannot be achieved without ending obstetric fistula since preventing the problem means addressing the causes of maternal mortality and morbidity including poverty, marginalization, gender and sociocultural inequality, child marriages and teenage pregnancies. It is also important for governments to take up the initiative to end fistula by addressing underlying medical and socio-economic causes, eliminating gender based social and economic inequities, preventing child marriages and early child bearing and promoting education especially for the girl child.