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Fistula: 10 Facts you should know 1) An Obstetric fistula is a hole in the birth canal caused by obstructed and prolonged labor. Current estimates indicate that there are 2 million women living with untreated fistula, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia.i 2) Obstructed labor occurs in 5% of all births and accounts for 8% of all maternal deaths.ii 3) Worldwide 300 million women suffer complications from pregnancy and delivery. For every woman who dies of pregnancy related causes, at least more 20 women are seriously injured.iii 4) The World Health Organization estimates that there are 50,000-100,000 new cases of obstetric fistula each year.iv 5) Adolescents are most at risk: at least 65% of women living with fistula developed it during adolescence.v 6) In almost 90% of fistula cases the baby is stillborn or dies within the first week of life.vi 7) Fistula can be almost completely avoided by providing access to high quality maternal care; including family planning, delaying the age of first pregnancy, having skilled attendants at births, and ensuring timely access to emergency obstetric care. 8) A simple surgical procedure cures 90% of all obstetric fistula patients. The average cost of treatment is $300.vii 9) Fistula disappeared in Europe and North America over 100 years ago, as obstetric care improved. 10) The United Nations estimates that it would cost approximately $750 million dollars to treat new and existing cases of obstetric fistula between now and 2015.viii

i

UNFPA. When Pregnancy Harms. http://www.unfpa.org/webdav/site/global/shared/safemotherhood/docs/fistula_factsheet_en.pdf Last Accessed 1/23/2011 ii World Health Organization. 10 Facts on Obstetric Fistula. http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/obstetric_fistula/en/ Last Accessed 1/23/2011 iii UNFPA. When Pregnancy Harms. http://www.unfpa.org/webdav/site/global/shared/safemotherhood/docs/fistula_factsheet_en.pdf Last Accessed 1/23/2011 iv World Health Organization. 10 Facts on Obstetric Fistula. http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/obstetric_fistula/en/ Last Accessed 1/23/2011 v World Health Organization. Making Pregnancy Safer: Adolescent Pregnancy. http://www.who.int/making_pregnancy_safer/topics/adolescent_pregnancy/en/ vi

UN General Assembly, “Supporting Efforts to End Obstetric Fistula, Report of the Secretary-General. 65 session. 9 August 2010.


vii

UNFPA. When Pregnancy Harms. http://www.unfpa.org/webdav/site/global/shared/safemotherhood/docs/fistula_factsheet_en.pdf Last Accessed 1/23/2011 viii UN General Assembly, “Supporting Efforts to End Obstetric Fistula, Report of the Secretary-General. 65 session. 9 August 2010.

 


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