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International Day to End Obstetric Fistula – May 23, 2023

International Day to End Obstetric Fistula is observed every year on May 23. It is an international holiday for gathering support and spreading awareness about obstetric fistula, a childbirth-related injury that majorly affects women in poor economic regions. Medically, it is described as a hole in the birth canal that occurs due to prolonged labor without medical intervention and other factors during childbirth. According to the United Nations Population Fund (U.N.F.P.A.), obstetric fistula is one of the most severe and tragic injuries that can occur during childbirth. The United Nations (U.N.) first observed the holiday in 2013.

History of International Day to End Obstetric Fistula

The history of International Day to End Obstetric Fistula can be traced to 2003 when U.N.F.P.A. launched the ‘Campaign to End Fistula.’ In 2013, the United Nations began observing International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, making it an annual campaign. Obstetric fistula is a childbirth-related injury that affects women, especially those in poor economic regions. As previously explained, an obstetric fistula is caused by obstructed labor, making a hole in the birth canal.

Childbirth was typically a home affair, with midwives assisting during the birthing process. It wasn’t until the 1920s that hospital births became more common in the U.S. However, the process involved questionable methods such as using forceps and anesthesia. In his book called “Childbirth Without Fear,” published in 1942, a doctor named Dr. Grantly Dick-Read outlined the benefits of giving birth without such tools or anesthesia.

In the 1970s, new trends were introduced. Husbands were now allowed to join their wives in the labor room, an act that was previously considered taboo. Furthermore, painkillers such as epidurals gained popularity. Water births and breathing work also became popular. Later, around the early 2000s, c-sections became an alternative to vaginal birth and accounted for a third of deliveries. Today, childbirth is less life-threatening and safer, thanks to improvements in medicine. Nevertheless, problems such as obstetric fistula still need to be tackled and eliminated through increased awareness and universal healthcare.

International Day to End Obstetric Fistula timeline

1853
Chloroform Gains Popularity

Women begin using chloroform during labor.

2003
Campaign to End Obstetric Fistula Launched

U.N.F.P.A. launches the global ‘Campaign to End Fistula.’

2012
The U.N. Announces Plans

The United Nations announces its plans to observe International Day to End Obstetric Fistula.

2013
International Day to End Obstetric Fistula

The U.N. begins observing International Day to End Obstetric Fistula on May 23.

International Day to End Obstetric Fistula FAQs

What are the three types of obstetric fistula?

According to the International Continence Society (I.C.S.), there are five types of fistulas:
Between the bladder and the vagina, between the urethra and the vagina, between the rectum and the vagina, between the kidney tubes and the vagina, and between the bladder and the womb.

Where is obstetric fistula most common?

The most common occurrence of obstetric fistula is in poorer countries like Africa and Asia.

How do you stop an obstetric fistula?

There are a few things that will help stop obstetric fistula worldwide, including ensuring access to reproductive health services, eliminating gender-based inequities (socially and economically), preventing child marriage and children having children, and promoting education and human rights.

How to Observe International Day to End Obstetric Fistula

  1. Donate to a charity

    On this day, pledge financial support to a charity that treats women with obstetric fistula. Drops of water make a mighty ocean.

  2. Educate someone

    More awareness needs to be spread about obstetric fistula, as it is a topic most people know little about. On this day, take time to spread awareness within your circle about ways to prevent obstetric fistula.

  3. Support patients

    Apart from financial donations, most people suffering from obstetric fistula suffer from stigmatization. Pledge to lend support — whether emotional or otherwise — to anyone you know who might be battling this condition.

5 Important Facts About Babies

  1. No more tears

    Babies can’t produce tears until they’re two weeks old; however, some babies can take longer to produce ‘real tears.’

  2. Babies don’t have kneecaps

    Babies don’t have actual kneecaps until they’re about six months old.

  3. Babies have more bones than adults

    While adults have 206 bones, newborns have 300 bones, which later merge into 206.

  4. Babies recognize their mothers

    As soon as babies are born, they can recognize their mother’s voice and smell.

  5. Due dates

    Statistically, only 5% of babies are born on their due dates, 50% are born within a week of the due date, and 90% within two weeks.

Why International Day to End Obstetric Fistula is Important

  1. It creates awareness

    Obstetric fistula is a condition that has not been widely publicized. International Day to End Obstetric Fistula is a day to create awareness and destroy misconceptions about the causes and effects of obstetric fistula.

  2. It fosters sympathy

    Women with obstetric fistula are often stigmatized and shamed. However, more awareness is likely to foster sympathy for victims.

  3. It raises support

    This international holiday encourages people to donate and support people suffering from obstetric fistula. This way, financial assistance is provided to help victims get proper treatment.

International Day to End Obstetric Fistula dates

YearDateDay
2023May 23Tuesday
2024May 23Thursday
2025May 23Friday
2026May 23Saturday
2027May 23Sunday

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