More than 300 Nigerian women living with injuries caused by fistula have been treated during the first week of the United Nations campaign entitled “Fistula Fortnight.” Twelve Nigerian doctors with four doctors from the US and United Kingdom have trained local doctors, nurses, and social workers to surgically repair and rehabilitate women who are suffering from injuries caused by fistula, reports the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Obstetric fistula mainly affects girls ages 15-19. Approximately two million girls around the world are currently living with the condition. The UNFPA describes obstetric fistula as an injury to the pelvic organs that most often occurs when a young girl undergoes long and obstructed labor, sometimes for as long as 5 days. Often, the girl is poor and cannot reach or afford the necessary medical care, which then causes her to suffer extensive tissue damage that eventually leads to the death of the baby. Another problem associated with obstetric fistula is that the injury causes women to lose control of their bowels and bladder unless treated appropriately, which often leads to the women becoming ostracized. Studies show that as many 800,000 Nigerian women currently live with fistula, and there are approximately 20,000 new cases annually, reports the UNFPA.
Since July 2002, the Bush Administration has withdrawn $34 million annually for the UNFPA, a major player in the fight to eradicate fistula, based on false allegations that the UNFPA participated in coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization in China.