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All you need to know about the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula

by jane.williams

The International Day to End Obstetric Fistula is marked on the 23 May of every year.

The theme for this year’s International Day is “Leaving no one behind: Let us commit to ending fistula now.”

An Obstetric Fistula is a hole between the vagina and rectum or bladder that is caused by prolonged obstructed labor, leaving a woman incontinent of urine or feces or both.


For women with obstructed labor, labor that goes unattended, the labor can last up to six or seven days. The labor produces contractions that push the baby’s head against the mother’s pelvic bone. The soft tissues between the baby’s head and the pelvic bone are compressed and do not receive adequate blood flow. The lack of blood flow causes this delicate tissue to die, and where it dies holes are created between the laboring mother’s bladder and vagina and/or between the rectum and vagina.

In December 2012, 167 countries co-sponsored a biannual resolution of the United Nations General Assembly that called on all Member States to support the activities of UNFPA and its partners in the Campaign to End Fistula.

The resolution also called for greater technical and financial support, in particular to high-burden countries, in order to accelerate progress towards achieving Millennium Development Goal 5: increasing maternal health, including eliminating obstetric fistula.

It also underlined the need to accelerate effort to address child marriage.

In addition, the UNFPA-backed resolution on Supporting Efforts to End Obstetric Fistula acknowledged the plight of millions of women and girls living with obstetric fistula by designating 23 May as the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula.

The Day was observed for the first time in 2013.

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