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UNFPA Representative Calls for Renewed Commitment to End Obstetric Fistula in Sierra Leone

The Representative, UNFPA Sierra Leone, Dr Kim Dickson has called for a reflection on obstetric fistula, review of progress made so far and identification of areas for further strategic focus in order to improve services for affected women and girls.

Dr Dickson made this call at the ceremony marking International Day to End Obstetric Fistula on 23 May, held at the Aberdeen Women's Centre, Freetown by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Office of the First Lady, UNFPA, Haikal, and other partners on the theme, 'End Fistula within a Generation'.

Describing fistula as an injury that occurs during child birth as a result of prolonged obstructed labor, Dr. Kim reiterated that ‘Maternal mortality remains significantly high in Sierra Leone, at 1,360 per 100,000 live births, and for every woman who dies, 20 or more are injured or disabled…’

‘Obstetric fistula is almost exclusively a condition of the poorest, most vulnerable and most marginalized women and girls’, she said, adding that fistula afflicts those who lack access to the timely, high-quality, and life-saving maternal health care that they so desperately need and deserve, which in itself, is their basic human right.

Dr Dickson reaffirmed UNFPA's commitment to the partnership with Government and other key stakeholders in the campaign to end what she described as ‘this debilitating condition’.

She made a clarion call on all to work towards putting an end to fistula stories, beginning with fistula stories getting pleasant endings: ‘Let every woman’s fistula story have a happy ending…, but most of all, let us put an end to fistula stories’, she concluded.

Partners working on obstetric fistula prevention, treatment, care and rehabilitation also recommitted themselves towards ending the condition in the country.

Dr Santigie Sesay, Director, Reproductive and Child Health, represented the Ministry of Health and Sanitation as Keynote Speaker. He renewed Government’s commitment to support the fight to end fistula.

Other speakers included Haja Hawa Turay, Executive Director of Haikal; Dr Abdulai D Sesay, Chair of the Health Committee in Parliament; Augustine Kosia, Country Director, Aberdeen Women’s Centre; Dr Jeredine George, Aberdeen Women's Centre, and PC Shebora Kasanga II of Bombali Shebora Chiefdom.

Dr Joan Shephard, Principal of the National School of Midwifery in Freetown chaired the event, which was attended by people from all walks of life, including traditional leaders.