Fistula: Why is this still a thing?

This week, for the first time ever, The World Health Assembly held a special side event to specifically address the lack of essential surgery to the low income countries around the world. Member countries from around the globe gathered to create strategies to start saving lives.

A young Bangladeshi woman receives an ultrasound at a Grameen health center in rural Bangladesh.

A young Bangladeshi woman receives an ultrasound at a Grameen health center in rural Bangladesh.

Today is the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula. Obstetric fistula is one of the single most shocking examples of the disparate access to simple surgical care around the world- a medieval disease we don't hear about here in the US or other developed nations. For example, the NYC Waldorf-Astoria now occupies the space where the last fistula hospital in New York stood. Fistula has been all but eliminated in the United States - the last official case was in the 19th century.

The WHA side event and today's International Day to End Obstetric Fistula call to attention one of the most important issues facing us as a community today: Why are women still dying, and becoming injured, from simply bearing children? As reported at the WHA this week:

  • Somalia has one of the world's highest rates of maternal death: 4,200 mothers die giving birth every year. Most of these deaths are completely preventable.
  • Angola: After thirty years of war, is there an answer to getting simple surgical solutions to the people most affected?
  • Kenya officials made the passionate case to the World Health Assembly that the time to argue over whether surgical care was necessary (or should be considered "primary care") is over. It is now time to act.

We are happy to report that The Right to Heal is on the forefront of the active pursuit to bring awareness to these issues. We have screened at over 25 institutions in 6 countries including the WHO,UN, and the UK parliament. In addition, several of our partners (Kupona Foundation, Lifebox and ICES) all have concrete actions we can take to help. See their blog posts here:

Fistula is treatable by Kupona 

To Speak Plainly: Obstetric Fistula by Lifebox

International Day to End Fistula by ICES

In addition, we invite you to SIGN THIS PETITION and to view the touching story from The Right to Heal about Priscilla, a survivor of obstetric fistula.