UNFPA EMBARKS ON ANTI FISTULA CAMPAIGN As 2 million women suffering with the condition

By Sarjo Camara-Singateh

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has joined the world in commemorating the international day to End Obstetric Mabingue Ngom, UNFPA Regional Director for WCAROFistula by screening a movie ‘Dry’ at a local hotel on the 24 May, 2016.

The United Nations Resident Coordinator, Ms Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje, in welcoming the viewers, described the UN day to end obstetric fistula pleasant as it coincides with Banjul +10 celebration and the African Youth Summit.

“By commemorating this international day with this thought provoking film, it is our thought that fistula will continue to be a priority to decision makers,” said Ms. Lekoetje.

She said fistula is a regular injury through female genital mutilation and inadequate maternity services. She added that this regular condition continues to affect African women, particularly the young women. “Let me assure you that Africa cares, Gambia cares and no woman should die of fistula,” said the UN Resident Coordinator.

The Deputy Executive Director Women’s Bureau, Ndey Fatou Jobe-Sanyang, said in medical terms obstetric fistula is an abnormal opening in a woman’s bladder and rectum. “Fistula occurs due to pro long and obstructive labour, with an opening in the woman’s private through the bladder or rectum,” she said.

She described the incidence of fistula in Africa as a concern, adding that an estimated 2 million women are living with fistula.

“Women with fistula often experience horrific or difficult conditions. People with fistula face ostracisation and marginalization; High number of divorce or separation,” said Mrs. Jobe-Sanyang.

She noted that this is an alarming situation, as they cannot afford any woman to witness women living under such devastating condition. “No woman should die by giving birth,” she said.

The deputy director of Women’s Bureau explained that for one to be constantly licking of urine and faeces can lead to damages in the woman’s vulva.

The deputy executive director called on partners to support the treatment of women with fistula condition.

Mr. Mabinque Ngom, UNFPA Regional Director for the West Africa region and Central (WCARO), for his part, said it is time for all hands to be on deck in order to address this menace.

Mr. Ngom said ending fistula is high on the UNFPA agenda, adding that his organistion has trained 70 thousand fistula repair surgeons in the global campaign and it is gaining momentum.

The UNFPA Regional Director revealed that there are 2 million women living with fistula in the world and of which 1 million lived in Nigeria. He said there will be no turning back until fistula is eliminated. “We cannot give up until every fistula survivor’s dignity is restored,” added the UNFPA Regional Director.

Stephanie Linus, the producer, said the film is born out of need and out of passion.

The film showcases child marriage. It also highlights the need for governments to support health ministries and hospitals as well as motivation of medical experts towards the elimination of fistula.

The film also stresses the need for women to be involved in decision making processes as well as their empowerment.