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Elimination of Obstetric Fistula by a Decade: What needs to be done in Bangladesh?

25 April 2019
A panel discussion was held to discuss the current problems and solutions of Fistula in the country

Obstetric Fistula (OF) is probably the most tragic childbirth injury confronting women in Bangladesh. OF is caused by untreated, obstructed and prolonged labour which creates a hole between the birth canal and bladder or rectum, leaving women to leak urine, feces or both. It often leads to chronic medical problems, depression, social isolation, and deepening poverty.

However, the elimination and attaining zero incidences of obstetric fistula in Bangladesh is possible before 2030. To show their level of commitment, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare supported by UNFPA organized a two-day national workshop on “Elimination of Obstetric Fistula by a Decade: What needs to be done in Bangladesh?” in Dhaka.

“There are around 20,000 fistula cases existing in the country. The health system needs to identify those women are silently suffering, bring them to the facility for quality management and more importantly, work to rehabilitate and reintegrate them with the society for a better life.” Dr. Sathya Doraiswamy, Chief-Health of UNFPA mentioned at the workshop.

A two-day workshop organized by UNFPA with the aim to explore the present situation of fistula in the country, and discuss successes, failures, gaps, and challenges and to identify actions that need to be taken to duly eradicate obstetric fistula from Bangladesh.

During the workshop, participants took part in group discussions and presented their findings on different domains of fistula elimination. Following the discussion, there was a panel discussion on what can be done next to approach the elimination of fistula in Bangladesh.

Honourable Member of Parliament, Ms. Fazilatun Nesa Indira MP graced the panel discussion with her wise words and quoted, “Obstetric Fistula is a serious disease and should not be taken lightly. It should become a topmost priority with parliamentarians willing to play a significant role in mobilizing the community to the identification and proper treatment of fistula cases in the designated hospitals.”

Prof Dr. Samena Chowdhury, President of the Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society of Bangladesh (OGSB) stated, “It’s not difficult to identify all the cases from the community. All it needs is effective coordination. A district-by-district approach could be beneficial.” She also mentioned about OGSB working intensively towards the formation of a small technical committee which would be responsible for planning concrete actions for fistula eradication.

 

Prof. Dr. Nasima Sultana, ADG-Admin, DGHS mentioned that the government is in talks to revise the operation plan of the 4th HPNSP,  which is why apt feedback from this workshop will be helpful during the revision and preparation of a functional fistula-eliminating action plan.

 

Whereas Shahnaz Munni, Chief Reporter, News24 spoke on the event regarding how fistula is still neglected and unheard of in many parts of the world and our country. She said," I'm really passionate about maternal health and have been working on it since '98. One of my close relatives was diagnosed with fistula, a diagnosis which I did not understand then but now, do. Fistula is a neglected condition and needs more awareness. So after this workshop, I plan to report on this as soon as possible.” She advised producing additional audiovisual materials in order to showcase and disseminate this information to more people.

More than 25 fistula surgeons around the country from different government and private institutions, Members of Parliament, Professionals from OGSB, DGHS, DGFP, USAID, EngenderHealth, National Fistula Centre, and media personnel participated in the workshop.