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Persistence of obstetric fistula is sign failing of health systems to meet women's essential needs: United Nations
The UN Agencies and medical fraternity observed the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula with the slogan 'We can end fistula' on May 23 across the world.

According to the UN, obstetric fistula is one of the most serious and tragic injuries that can occur during childbirth which is a hole between the birth canal and the bladder or rectum caused by prolonged, obstructed labour without treatment.

"The condition typically leaves women incontinent, and as a result they are often shunned by their communities. Sufferers often endure depression, social isolation and deepening poverty. Many women live with the condition for years – or even decades – because they cannot afford to obtain treatment," informs the UN website.

UN warns that most fistulae occur among women living in poverty in cultures where a woman's status and self-esteem may depend almost entirely on her marriage and ability to bear children. Yet fistula is almost entirely preventable which is persistence is a sign that health systems are failing to meet women's essential needs.

Highlighting obstetric fistula symptoms generally manifest in the early post-partum period, the website adds, "Obstetric fistula can be prevented and in most cases treated. Reconstructive surgery with a trained, expert fistula surgeon can repair the injury, with success rates as high as 90 percent for less complex cases."

UN holds that obstetric fistula is preventable; it can largely be avoided by: delaying the age of first pregnancy; the cessation of harmful traditional practices; and timely access to obstetric care.

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