ISLAMABAD: The spouses of various foreign dignitaries came together to raise funds and create awareness about fistula disease on Monday evening at the lawns of the British High Commissioner’s residence.
The event also marked Fistula Awareness Day.
Fariba Thompson, wife of the British High commissioner along with Geraldine George from Australia, Vanessa Hynes from Canada, Odile Jouanneau from France, Elisa Vargas from Spain, Regula Bubb from Switzerland, Emel Hizlan from Turkey and US Ambassador’s wife Marilyn Watt organised tea and activities at the High commissioner’s residence to raise awareness about obstetric fistula and gather funds to support the cost of surgeries for women who suffer from the terrible affliction.
Participants included women from civil society, medical doctors and philanthropists from across the country. The idea was generated in the minds of the ladies after they heard about the work of Dr Shershah Syed, president of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Pakistan, who has made significant contributions to raising the level of maternal health care in Pakistan.
Fistula is the name of a condition given to a devastating injury that occurs when a baby gets lodged in its mother’s birth canal during difficult and obstructed labour, resulting in the loss of bowel and urinary control functions.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Dr Syed said that about 3000 to 5000 women per year find themselves burdened with this affliction in Pakistan.
In her address, Hynes noted, “Beside the trauma the woman has to bear when she sustains a fistula injury, she also often gives birth to a stillborn.“
Dr Syed added, “The numbers will increase because poverty acts as a major contributing factor.“
He said patients from Afghanistan had also sought treatment in Pakistan. “These women are either divorced or abandoned by their families,“ he said, asking people to come together and create awareness. The repair surgery can change a woman’s life from one of disgrace to one of dignity in minutes.
The surgery only costs Rs2,000 when the doctor’s services are donated. The event’s organisers have raised over Rs1.3 million for the cause.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 22nd, 2011.