Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin calls for support for fistula sufferers



Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin, the Executive Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has called for support towards the elimination of stigma on fistula sufferers.
Osotimehin, in his message for the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, said more than two million women and girls still lived with the condition.
Obstetric fistula is a hole in the birth canal caused by obstructed labour.
Women who experience obstetric fistula suffer constant incontinence, shame, and social segregation and health problems.
The head of the UN women’s health agency, however, said the condition had largely been eliminated in developed countries.
“With strong political leadership, investment and action, we can end this scourge in our lifetime.
“Join us in standing with the world’s poorest, most marginalised women and girls,” Osotimehin said.
The condition, which affects between 50,000 and 100,000 new women and girls each girl, is believed to be largely avoided by delaying the first age of pregnancy, avoiding harmful traditional practices, and receiving medical attention in time.
Osotimehin also cited account of an unfortunate case of Nachilango Bisolomo in Malawi.
“She married early and was pregnant by the age of 18, before her pelvis fully developed. After a long and difficult labour, her baby died, and Ms. Bisolomo was left with a fistula.
“She changed her name from Nasiwelo to Nachilango, meaning ‘one who has been punished’.
“Like many survivors, she felt embarrassed and alienated: ‘My life has been hell’.
“After 46 years, Ms. Bisolomo had her fistula repaired at a clinic supported by UNFPA.
“‘I don’t intend to change my name when I go back, despite being healed’, she told UNFPA from her hospital bed, ‘because I want to still be an example to many that this condition can be cured’,” Osotimehin narrated.
Osotimehin further spoke about two women whom he had known personally who underwent the procedure at the ages of 83 and 77.
“I have no words to describe the sense of hope, healing and restored dignity this treatment provided foremost to these two women, but also to their loved ones,” the UNFPA chief said.
This year’s theme is, ‘Hope, Healing and Dignity for all’ with a special focus on those most left behind, excluded and shunned by society, in recognition of women who have endured this condition for decades.

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