Jartu is a fistula survivor from central Liberia who benefited from free fistula repair treatment and subsequent rehabilitation and skills training through the Liberia Fistula Project.

Zonta International statement on International Day to End Obstetric Fistula 2022

Today, Zonta International recognizes International Day to End Obstetric Fistula under the theme, “End Fistula Now: Invest in Quality Healthcare, Empower Communities!”

A serious childbirth injury, obstetric fistula is a hole between the birth canal and bladder and/or rectum. The preventable problem is caused by prolonged, obstructed labor without access to timely, high-quality medical treatment.

When left untreated, obstetric fistula can cause infection, disease and infertility, and often leads to depression, social isolation and deepening poverty. With properly trained surgeons, appropriately equipped facilities and the necessary aftercare, the treatment of uncomplicated obstetric fistula has a 90% success rate.

“Zonta International believes all women and girls should have access to quality health care services. Obstetric fistula may have disappeared in wealthy countries, but it is still prevalent in poorer countries without adequate maternal health care. We want to see the end of obstetric fistula worldwide,” said Zonta International President Sharon Langenbeck.

From 2008 to 2018, Zonta International contributed more than US$3.5 million to the UNFPA’s Liberia Fistula Project, which focused on prevention, treatment and rehabilitation. With Zonta’s support, more than 350,000 women, girls and community members benefited from continued advocacy focused on fistula prevention, access to quality reproductive health services and the availability of free tree treatment for those women and girls living with fistula. The program also trained four residents, five nurses and three certified midwives in clinical management of obstetric fistula and post-operative care.

Childbirth injuries like obstetric fistula can be avoided by delaying the age of first pregnancy, ending harmful traditional practices and having timely access to obstetric care. That is why programs like Zonta’s international service projects are so critical to the health and education of young women and girls.

Zonta’s support of the UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to End Child Marriage is protecting the rights of millions of vulnerable girls in 12 countries in Africa and Asia, working to eliminate child marriage, decrease school dropouts and reduce teenage pregnancy rates. In Madagascar, UNICEF’s Let Us Learn program, supported by Zonta International since 2016, is educating girls and providing them with reproductive health and life skills. And in Peru, Zonta is partnering with UNICEF USA to guarantee the rights of indigenous and rural adolescents, including by preventing pregnancy and improving their access to quality health care.

On the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, Zonta International calls on the global community to raise awareness of this condition and work to provide health care to all women and girls. To find out how you can help end fistula by preventing it and helping those who are suffering from it, click here to get involved in the campaign. 

23 MAY 2022