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[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Obstetric fistula in the developing world and the public health response

Tamara A. Howard, MPH Candidate and Ava O. Onalaja, MPH. International Health Policy and Program, George Washington University, School of Public Health and Health Services, 2300 I Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037, 240-314-4430, tamara76@gwu.edu

The WHO estimates that more than two million women in the developing world remain untreated with fistula and at least 50,000 to 100,000 new cases occur each year. Fistulas render women unable to control their bladder or bowel, resulting in incontinence, genital ulcers, infections, and ultimately isolation from the community. Partners and family members may mistake the symptoms of obstetric fistula as venereal disease, thus blaming the woman for her condition. Many women with obstetric fistula lose their jobs and abandoned by their families, resort to begging or prostitution to support them. Socio-economic factors such as poverty, inaccessibility of hospital facilities, malnutrition, early marriage and child bearing, and traditional practices can increase a women's risk of fistula. Other factors include a lack of government policies and expenditure on health for the poor. Improving access to quality obstetric care, including skilled attendance during labor and delivery, helps prevent obstetric fistulas. Fistula surgical repair has a 90% success rates and costs between $100 and $400 however the cost of the operation is beyond the reach of most women. In addition, there is limited access to trained doctors, well-equipped facilities, and even adequate information about treatment. It is necessary that world-wide and national attention be given to obstetric fistula, in order to raise awareness in the effected areas, and promote national treatment and prevention programs. It is recommended that funding be made available to scale-up the number of sites for surgical repair and provide education for individuals about the value of obstetric care.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, the participant will be able to

Keywords: Reproductive Health, Women's Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No

[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Maternal and Child Health Issues

The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA