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Obaseki seeks global action to end preventable stillbirth, obstetric fistula

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Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has called for increased collaboration among global stakeholders, to raise awareness and accelerate actions to end obstetric fistula, caused by prolonged and obstructed labour, without access to timely and high-quality medical treatment.

Obaseki made the call, on Monday, in commemoration of this year’s International Day to end Obstetric Fistula, marked by the United Nations and its sister agencies, with the theme, “Women’s rights are human rights! End fistula now!”

He said: “The campaign to eliminate the often silent but enormous trauma and burden of stillbirth would never become a reality without increased inputs and participation of the traditional and religious institutions, women groups and international organisations, members of the political class, the organised private sector and civil society groups.

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“We must all work together to raise awareness and accelerate actions to end obstetric fistula; one of the most serious and tragic childbirth injuries, which leaves our women with incontinence problems, and leading to chronic medical complications, depression, social isolation and deepening poverty.”

The governor reiterated the need for urgent steps to ensure the provision of timely access to obstetric care and significantly increase investment to improve maternal healthcare delivery amid COVID-19 pandemic.

Obaseki also reassured that his government would continue to increase women’s access to skilled pregnancy care by addressing sexual and reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health to lessen the burden of preventable stillbirths and reduce maternal and perinatal mortality in the state.

“As the world marks the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, it is imperative to point out that we have undertaken deliberate reforms and policies to improve maternal health and will continue to collaborate with partners to sustain efforts at improving quality and affordable healthcare for women and children through the revamp of the state’s primary health care system,” the governor reassured.

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According to the United Nations (UN), “Obstetric fistula is preventable; it can largely be avoided by delaying the age of first pregnancy; the cessation of harmful traditional practices; and timely access to obstetric care.

“Unfortunately, the current pandemic affects all these preventive measures in developing countries where obstetric fistula still exists. More women and girls will be at risk of obstetric fistula due to overburdened health systems. In addition, fistula repairs have widely been suspended as they are deemed to be non-urgent and hospitals have diverted resources to care for patients with COVID-19.”

“With this possible future scenario of preventive measures in danger, now more than ever, it is important to call on the international community to use the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula to significantly raise awareness and intensify actions towards ending obstetric fistula, as well as urging post-surgery follow-up and tracking of fistula patients,” the UN noted.

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