Is This a Good Time to Eliminate Obstetric Fistula?

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Several UN agencies, universities, governments and NGOs in various affected countries and donor-countries have taken up the cause. Women who suffer obstetric fistula are no longer being ignored internationally. People in several affected countries wish to alleviate and prevent this most devastating of all pregnancy-related complications. Communications technologies, expertise in obstetric fistula repair, and other needed infrastructure have recently become more widespread, even in poor developing countries.

We now have a clear understanding and several decades of experience with eradication approaches to disease. As of 2018, HDI alone has almost 30 years of such experience.

Niger and HDI also have a decade-long track record preventing obstetric fistula, maternal deaths, and “baby deaths” (stillborns and babies dying within three days) in a large, almost universally illiterate population. It is in fact the people who live there that have done the work and whose achievements these are. They have eliminated obstetric fistula from a previously severely afflicted area; they have completely eliminated maternal deaths due to obstructed labor from five months after the project started, though that was one of the two biggest causes of women dying at childbirth in this area; they have reduced birth-related maternal deaths of all causes by about 80%; and the proportion of babies born dead or dying within three days was nine times higher during the project’s first year than in the most recent year. Again, this is the work of an almost universally illiterate population and a severely under-resourced health care system, with little added by way of extra resources beyond public health tools from the Catalyst Approach to Public Health as described elsewhere on the website.

We are not battling windmills. This is a good time to take on the plight of women who would otherwise suffer obstetric fistula, and thus help save the lives of thousands of babies and thousands of women in the process, as well as helping those who already have the condition.

Eliminate obstetric fistula! That should be the call! With our focus on prevention, HDI is helping to dry up this river of suffering. We still need help to get the job done. It can be done!

For more information about Obstetric Fistula check out Resources.

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