Between 3,500 and 5,000 cases of obstetric fistula occur in Pakistan each year, while thousands more women simply suffer in silence, unaware that they can seek medical assistance.
To commemorate the Third International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, which will be observed on Saturday (today), medical experts held a briefing for the media at Karachi Press Club on Friday.
“One of the most serious injuries of childbirth, obstetric fistula is a hole in the birth canal caused by prolonged, obstructed labour due to the lack of timely and adequate medical care,” explained Dr Haleema Yaseen, a representative of Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Pakistan, adding that in most cases, the baby is either stillborn or dies within a week, while the mother suffers a devastating injury. “Such women face physical, social and psychological issues but treatment is possible.”
The doctors at the briefing said that the victims of obstetric fistula were usually among the hardest to reach, illiterate and with limited access to health services. The persistence of the preventable problem, according to them, reflected the country’s broader health inequities.
Dr Suboohi Mehdi, from the Pakistan National Forum on Women’s Health, also pointed out that early marriage was one of the causes of this particular disease.
Dr Yasmeen revealed that special wards had been established for fistula patients in various major hospitala in Sindh, including Civil Hospital, Karachi, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre and Chandka Medical Centre, but most women did not consult medical experts.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 23rd, 2015.