5000 fistula cases reported annually in Pakistan

Karachi: Program Officer Pakistan National Forum on Women’s Health (PNFWH) Dr Sajjad Ahmed Siddiqui on Thursday said about 4000 to 5000 new fistula cases are reported every year in Pakistan.

He expressed these views while addressing a press conference at Karachi Press Club(KPC) in connection with World International Day to End Obstetric Fistula (23May 2014). The press conference was organized by PNFWH with collaboration of Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Pakistan (SOGP) and United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA).

Dr Siddiqui said 2 million new obstetric fistula cases are reported every year in world and most of the women catch fistula disease during childbirth through unskilled birth attendants. He said major risk factors behind these fistula cases are social and cultural issues like early marriages, poverty, lack of education, high fertility rate and poor healthcare infrastructure.

He informed that obstetric fistula, a childbirth injury that leaves women incontinent, ashamed and often isolated from their communities, is preventable and in most cases treatable.

He said disease occurred when a woman or girl suffers prolonged, obstructed labour without timely access to an emergency assistance. He said with thousands of women suffering in isolation and embarrassment, obstetric fistula is undeniably one of the most telling examples of inequitable access to maternal healthcare.

He said 99 percent of the victims belong to poor backgrounds. He informed over 3400 women and girls received surgical treatment for fistula in Pakistan through UNFPA. He said that PNFWH with the help of UNFPA was providing all the facilities to these women. He said 13 treatment centres are working all over Pakistan. They provide medical facility, food, residence and surgical treatment without any charge to the patients, he added.

Secretary General PMA Dr Mirza Ali Azhar Centre said fistula is treatable and preventable disease. He said unfortunately Pakistan is still fighting polio, measles and fistula. He stressed the need of training of birth attendants so they could save lives of women during pregnancy.

UNFPA Midwifery Advisor Sharifa Mir suggested the government of Pakistan to include this fistula elimination program in its health policy and provide facilities to the women and girls suffering from fistula.

Activist Tehreek-I-Niswan Sheema Kirmani said fistula disease is only reported in poor countries where outdated pregnancy methods still prevail. She said situation could not be improved until giving the women equal status.

General Secretary PMA Karachi Dr Qazi Wasiq applauded the services of PNFWH President Dr Shershah Syed for fighting fistula. He also stressed training of midwives to save women from this disease.

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