International Day for the Eradication of Obstetric Fistula 2024: Overcoming barriers to provide more treatment

On May 23 each year, FIGO joins the global community to raise awareness about obstetric fistula and generate much-needed additional support for affected women.

Obstetric fistula is a serious birth injury that affects two million women in low-resource settings, with 100,000 new cases each year. Despite the need, only 1 in 50 women receives treatment.

FIGO’s Fistula Surgery Training Initiative (FSTI) has the mission to eradicate obstetric fistula globally. FSTE is dedicated to training surgeons, known as FIGO Fellows, from fistula-affected communities. With 90 surgeons now part of this crucial training program, FIGO has reached out to its fellows to hear their thoughts on the multifaceted approach needed to address this pressing issue. Listen to what they have to say.

What is the most important step to provide treatment to more women with obstetric fistula?

Crucial steps to treat more women with obstetric fistula require:

  • More Skilled and Skilled Fistula Surgeons
  • More national and regional fistula treatment centers that provide comprehensive care
  • More financial assistance to support incurable fistula patients, including their accommodation, food and medication

-Dr. Abdirisak Hassan Artan, Keysaney Hospital Somalia, FIGO Fellow

The most important step in providing treatment to more women with obstetric fistula is to raise awareness about obstetric fistula and the availability of accessible, effective and subsidized treatment.

-Dr. Fatimat M. Akinlusi, Faculty of Medicine, Lagos State University, Nigeria, FIGO Fellow

Continued awareness-raising, especially at the community level, is one of the most important steps to provide treatment to more women with obstetric fistula.

I have examined and operated on many women who have lived with obstetric fistula for 10 or 15 and even 25 years because they did not know that surgery was available.

-Dr. Royd Nonde, Zambia, FIGO Fellow

The most important step in providing treatment to a greater number of women suffering from obstetric fistula is community awareness. This will be the basis of community participation and the referral of cases to a health center.

-Dr. Kenny Raha, Democratic Republic of the Congo, FIGO Fellow

To treat more women suffering from obstetric fistula, the most important step is to train surgeons to provide safe care. Because the testimony of a woman cured of a fistula can convince many women.

-Dr. Tiana Herilala Razanakoto, Madagascar, FIGO Fellow

The voices of FIGO fellows underscore a common theme: there are still barriers to overcome and effective treatment is key to ending obstetric fistula. We need to focus on training surgeons, expanding treatment centers, providing financial support and increasing awareness to significantly reduce this condition.

On this International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, FIGO urges governments, healthcare providers and the global community to commit to these steps. Together, we can ensure that every woman affected by obstetric fistula receives the care she deserves, moving toward a future free of this avoidable tragedy.

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