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APHA Scientific Session and Event Listing

Highlighting poor women's vulnerability: Obstetric fistula from a human rights perspective

Luz A. Melo, JD, LLM, Technical Support Division/Culture, Gender, Human Rights Branch, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), 220 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017, 212-297-5102, melo@unfpa.org and Kate Ramsey, MPH, Technical Support Division/Reproductive Health Branch, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), 220 E 42nd St., New York, NY 10017.

Maternal mortality is well known as a human rights issue and an issue of great inequity, however maternal morbidity and its impact on women's lives has only recently gained widespread attention. Obstetric fistula is chronic morbidity of childbirth that is a notable violation of women's rights and highlights the vulnerability of poor women and girls in low resource settings. It once existed in Europe and North America, but has been virtually eliminated since the early 20th century in those regions. The continued existence of obstetric fistula in poorer settings points to the failure of states, but also of communities and families, to meet their obligations. Needs assessments on obstetric fistula conducted in Africa and Asia since 2003 show neglect in terms of rights to education, health, dignity and freedom from discrimination. Obstetric fistula, as a concrete result of this neglect, is a powerful example to motivate both communities and political leaders to take action, with benefit to all women. Women who have experienced a fistula and their families may be able to play a key role if they are empowered to have a voice. Communities can also be supported to fulfil their obligations and to advocate for the rights of women.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, the participant (learner) in this session will be able to

Keywords: Maternal Morbidity, Community Involvement

Related Web page: www.endfistula.org

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Not Answered

Maternal Health

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