International Day to End Obstetric Fistula 2015

13 May, 2015
International Day to End Obstetric Fistula 2015
Micheline Yotoudjim, National Fistula Ambassador in Chad (l.) with fistula survivor before surgery. Photo: Ollivier Girard/UNFPA

On 23 May 2015, the United Nations, Member States, partners of the Campaign to End Fistula and others around the globe will mark the annual International Day to End Obstetric Fistula. This year’s theme, “End fistula, restore women’s dignity,” highlights that the persistence of fistula is a stark illustration of severe inequalities and the denial of human rights and dignity.

In line with the resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2014, which calls for intensifying efforts to end fistula, the day will be an opportunity to generate new and renewed support for the Campaign to End Fistula.

2015 represents a critical turning point and a transformational moment to place the elimination of preventable maternal and newborn deaths and injuries, including fistula, at the forefront of global and national priorities. In September, world leaders will enshrine the new post-2015 development agenda at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. This would provide a perfect opportunity to ensure women and girls are strategically and centrally positioned in a post-2015 development world and that addressing fistula is a priority. At the national level, it is crucial that fistula-affected countries develop costed, time-bound national strategies and action plans for ending obstetric fistula as part of integrated sexual and reproductive health plans and comprehensive national health plans.

On 22 May at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, the Permanent Missions of Ethiopia, Iceland and Liberia to the United Nations in Geneva, along with UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, will host a side event of the sixty-eighth World Health Assembly to mark the International Day. The event, "Going from global to local - National leadership and strategies toward ending fistula," will feature a testimonial from a fistula survivor and discussion with fistula surgeons, donor and programme countries, UNFPA, and Zonta International representatives. Singer and actress Natalie Imbruglia, spokesperson for the Campaign to End Fistula, will highlight the importance of mobilizing at global, regional, national, and local levels to bring an end to fistula, once and for all.

We know that prevention, treatment and rehabilitation are priority interventions for eliminating fistula and for supporting women and girls to realize and achieve their goals. During the upcoming International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, we encourage partners to join their hands and raise their voices to promote the common goal of ending fistula and restoring women’s dignity.

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