International Day to End Obstetric Fistula


Countries around the world are marking the first-ever fistula day with a variety of events to raise awareness of this severely neglected health and human rights tragedy, highlight progress made over the last decade, and generate new political and financial support for the global movement to end the condition. These events include a special observance at the United Nations in New York, with the participation of fistula survivors, in addition to advocates and practitioners who have dedicated their careers to put an end to this dreadful condition.

In December 2012, 167 countries from around the world co-sponsored a biannual resolution at the UN General Assembly that called on all Member States to support the activities of PMNCH Board Member UNFPA and its partners in the Campaign to End Fistula. The resolution also called for greater technical and financial support, in particular to high-burden countries, in order to accelerate progress towards achieving UN Millennium Development Goal 5, to improve maternal health, and eliminating obstetric fistula. It also underlined the need to accelerate effort to address child marriage.

In addition, the UNFPA-backed resolution on Supporting Efforts to End Obstetric Fistula acknowledged the plight of millions of women and girls living with obstetric fistula by designating 23 May as the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula. The Day was agreed to be observed every year, beginning in 2013.

This year’s observance coincides with the 10th anniversary of the Campaign to End Fistula, which was launched by UNFPA in collaboration with a wide range of partners. The Campaign is currently active in more than 50 countries in Africa, Asia, the Arab states and Latin America. Over that decade, UNFPA has directly supported more than 34 000 women and girls to receive surgical fistula treatment; its partner agencies have supported thousands more.