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Obaseki urges better collaboration, increased funding to accelerate progress in ending obstetric fistula

23 May 2023

The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has called for increased collaboration among global stakeholders, ensuring adequate funding in prevention and treatment to amplify efforts and accelerate progress in ending obstetric fistula.

Obaseki made the call in commemoration of the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula celebrated by the United Nations and its sister agencies with the theme, ‘20 years on – progress but not enough? Act now to end fistula by 2030!’

According to the governor, “Over the past two decades, significant strides have been made in raising awareness about obstetric fistula, caused by prolonged and obstructed labour, without access to timely and high-quality medical treatment.

“These efforts have improved access to quality healthcare services, and provided surgical interventions for affected women. Through collaborative efforts involving governments, non-governmental organizations, healthcare professionals, and communities, we have witnessed remarkable progress in ending this devastating condition that leaves our women and girls in pain, isolation, and often with the enduring stigma associated with it.

“While we acknowledge the progress made, there is still so much work to be done as women in marginalized and vulnerable populations, those living in remote areas with limited access to healthcare, and those affected by conflict and humanitarian crises face significant challenges in accessing adequate care which pose a serious threat to the realization of the goal to totally eradicate the menace by 2023.

“We must therefore redouble efforts to strengthen collaborations and bridge the funding gap in prevention and treatment, among other efforts so as to sustain the progress in ending obstetric fistula, ensuring the health and safety of our women and girls.”

Obaseki further noted that ongoing reforms in the healthcare system in Edo will guarantee access to quality reproductive health services, including access to skilled birth attendants and high-quality emergency obstetric care, and address preventable stillbirths, noting that the state has launched the ‘Help Baby Survive’ initiative, aimed at reducing the incidence of maternal and child mortality in the state.

He added, “We are embarking on holistic reform of the health sector, focusing on strengthening our health systems, particularly in rural and marginalized areas, to ensure that quality maternal and reproductive healthcare services are accessible to all. This has involved improving infrastructure, equipping health facilities with necessary medical supplies, and training healthcare professionals to provide comprehensive obstetric care, including the prevention and treatment of obstetric fistula.”

According to the United Nations, “Three cost-effective solutions can prevent fistula: timely access to high-quality emergency obstetric and newborn care, trained professionals with midwifery skills at childbirth, and universal access to modern contraception. Health systems can reduce fistula by tracking prevalence, correcting gaps in care, and ensuring universal access to a competent health workforce. National health plans must also address gender discrimination and other factors making women and girls more vulnerable to maternal mortality and disease.”

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