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Five-year plan unveiled to end fistula

Author: Garang Abraham Malak | Published: Friday, October 9, 2020

File photo: Health experts estimate that at least 60,000 women in South Sudan suffer from obstetric fistula, which can cause uncontrollable leakage of urine or feces/News Deeply

The government of South Sudan has launched a five-year National Obstetric Fistula Strategy aimed at ending the condition that has affected over 60,000 women across the country.

According to the Ministry of Health, from 2006 up to date, over 60,000 obstetric fistula cases have been registered.

Health partners such as the United Nations Population Fund and the Ministry of Health say obstetric fistula can be eliminated if all efforts are put together.

The strategy outlines an action plan, development and application processes, areas of priority, roles and responsibilities, financing and resourced mobilization mechanisms.

The plan is expected to be funded by the government and developmental partners.

Gillian Gutts – UNFPA midwifery specialist says the strategy aims at making those affected realize their fundamental human rights.

“The strategy comes with the 5-year action plan for the elimination of obstetric fistula for the period 2019-2023 and will guide the implementation of prevention, treatment and social reintegration interventions for obstetric fistula,” Gillian during the launching ceremony on Friday.

“The national strategy is a call to realize the fundamental human rights of all women and girls in South Sudan, with special focus on that most left behind, excluded and shunned by society.”

For her part, the Minister for Gender, Child and Social Welfare calls on the parliament to enact laws that protect women and girls’ from acts that make them develop the condition.

“All stakeholders should rally on efforts to end this dehumanized condition because obstetric fistula is one of the most serious injuries that can occur during childbirth and leaves women’s urinary end due to an abnormal opening between the birth canal and urinary system and the rectum,” Aya Benjamin explained.

In 2018, UNFPA said 75% of women treated for fistula in South Sudan testified to being abandoned by their husbands and family members.

The UN organization said risk factors causing fistula in South Sudan include early and forced marriages, teenage pregnancy, poor health infrastructure and poverty.

It is estimated that over 60,000 women are living with obstetric fistula, yet less than 1,000 have been reached with surgical repair and treatment.

In that year alone, over 800 women benefited from the annual fistula repair campaigns, and over 74 cases of fistula were treated.

An obstetric fistula is a hole between the birth canal and rectum or bladder that is caused by prolonged obstructed labor, leaving a woman incontinent of urine or feces or both.

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