The UNFPA has said obstetric fistula, a childbirth injury caused by prolonged, obstructed labor without prompting medical attention, is silently robbing millions of women and girls of their health, hope and dignity.
"The condition often leaves the woman with chronic incontinence and usually results in the death of the child," said UNFPA Executive Director Dr Natalia Kanem in a statement marking the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula that falls on Thursday.
She said pregnancy and childbirth should be among the happiest of occasions in a woman's life. "Unfortunately, this is not the case for many of the world's poorest and most marginalized women."
"Let us commit to putting the furthest behind first and ensuring human rights, well-being and dignity for all. UNFPA is committed to ending fistula within a generation, and we call upon the world to join us in this bold endeavor," she said.
Fistula, which has been virtually eliminated in wealthier countries, is a serious human rights violation, a reflec-tion of health systems' failures, and a tragic sign of global social injustice and inequity.
The global Sustainable Development Goals are a bold and inspirational call to leave no one behind, especially those most marginalized, forgotten, and voiceless.
Kanem said the theme of this year's International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, "Leaving no one behind: let us commit to ending fistula now!", underscored the stark reality that failing to eliminate fistula jeopardizes the world's chances of attaining many of these goals.
"We have come a long way. Since 2003, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, leader of the global Campaign to End Fistula, has, with its partners, supported nearly 100,000 life-transforming surgeries to heal the physical and psychological wounds of fistula survivors," she said.
The UNFPA Executive Director said it is time they end the needless suffering caused by fistula, in keeping with the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.
UNFPA stresses commitment to end fistula