Every year May 23 is observed as International Day to End Obstetric Fistula. The observance holds immense importance because the need to end obstetric fistula is extremely urgent. It is a health burden that is not given much attention, however, it as per the UN it is "one of the most serious and tragic injuries that can occur during childbirth". They also believe that it could be threatened by the current pandemic of COVID-19 and therefore it is way more important that action is taken against the preventable Obstetric fistula. As per WHO, obstetric fistula is a hole between the birth canal and the bladder or rectum caused by prolonged, obstructed labour without treatment.
The condition that is caused during childbirth leaves women incontinent. This also creates a stigma because of which many women are shunned by their communities. Women live with the condition for years – or even decades because of not being able to afford treatment. However obstetric fistulas can be avoided by delaying the age of first pregnancy. However the UN believes that "the current pandemic affects all these preventive measures in developing countries where obstetric fistula still exists - countries in which health care systems, even before the coronavirus outbreak, failed to provide accessible, quality maternal health care."
Theme & Significance
This year the theme for International Day to End Obstetric Fistula is
"End gender inequality! End health inequities! End Fistula now!". The theme gives away a clear message that the health inequalities and fistula must end now. The UN says that the women and girls at risk of living with fistula faced "structural and systemic barriers to care before the pandemic." They also said that bein denied or having a lack of access to sexual reproductive health services is especially devastating for women and girls who are already dealing with economic, social, cultural and logistical barriers.
UN reports say that the COVID-19 pandemic may cause 13 million more child marriages by 2030. Families nay choose to marry off daughters instead of bearing the burden of caring for them, especially in the anticipated economic fallout of the pandemic.