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International Day to End Obstetric Fistula
23 May

Secretary-General's Message for 2014

It is an appalling fact that in our world of modern medical advances, nearly 800 women still die from pregnancy-related complications each day, and for every woman who dies, almost 20 more are injured or disabled with severe or life-shattering, long-term conditions such as obstetric fistula.

This International Day to End Obstetric Fistula is an opportunity to sound the alarm on this tragedy so that we may galvanize action to end it. Progress is possible. Over the past dozen years, some 47,000 women and girls have received surgical treatment supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Registering and tracking each woman and girl with fistula can help ensure that more individuals receive treatment, survivors stay healthy and their future babies thrive. The Every Woman Every Child initiative can help advance progress by mobilizing partners to support all those who need help.

Addressing obstetric fistula is more than a matter of health; it is a human rights imperative. This condition is one of the most devastating consequences of neglected childbirth and a stark reflection of inequality at its worst. Although fistula is now virtually unheard of in industrialized countries, it continues to afflict the most impoverished women and adolescent girls in many developing countries. If left untreated, it can contribute to social isolation and depression and lead to chronic medical problems, even the loss of the child

Fistula is fully preventable when all women and girls have access to high-quality, comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services, especially family planning, maternal health care and emergency obstetric care.

On this International Day, I call on partners to support the UNFPA-led global Campaign to End Fistula. Let us join forces to eliminate this global social injustice.

Ban Ki-moon

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