This year’s International day of Fistula, celebrated on 23rd of May in University of Gondar, Comprehensive Fistula Care and Training Center marked the full-fledged vital roles that the University and its allies are playing to bring substantial impact on the multifaceted debilitating effects that obstetric fistula is causing on women and girls at both the regional and national levels. Various dignitaries, higher officials of the University, guests from both national and international partner organizations, staff and students of the College of Medicine and Health Sciences attended the event.
It is noted during the occasion that Fistula is the result of prolonged and obstructed labor that its devastating condition has left-and continues to leave- hundreds of thousands of women suffering in solitude and shame while the injuries obstetric fistula causes can be prevented and treated. It is also said that even though fistula has for so long been a main cause of maternal death for many women and girls in different parts of the world, especially in the developing nations, it is only recently that it has begun to gain international attention, and an international campaign- “campaign to end fistula” was launched in 2003 by the initiative of UNFPA. Accordingly, the day 23rd of May was designated as an international day to end obstetric fistula, and henceforth use the day each year to raise awareness and intensify actions towards ending obstetric fistula.
Despite all these challenges however, there is a growing global momentum to reduce the incidence of obstetric fistula. In the case of Ethiopia, remarkable achievements have been registered by such institutions as Gondar comprehensive fistula care and training center. The presence of 8 other centers in the nation and the enabling condition created by the FMOH by developing and endorsing a comprehensive strategic plan to eliminate obstetric fistula from the country by the year 2020 are opportunities signaling brighter future on the national attempt to eradicate the problem. A case in point is that Gondar fistula center has been able to manage to treat and let 900 fistula victims regain their hopes for life and reintegrate with the society.
Prof. Mengesha Admassu, president of UoG officially opened the event with his opening remark. According to the president-“Fistula care is not only repairing the hole. It also includes rehabilitation of the physical and psychological trauma of the patients and social reintegration with the aim of economic buildup of the patients is one of the corner stone of the comprehensive car.” In line with this, the president underscored some of the successful results that Gondar fistula Center and its partners accomplished so far, for which he passed his gratitude for their unreserved contribution including the facilitation and sponsorship of the event of the day. He also said that “Gondar fistula Center is the biggest among the three fistula centers with 62 beds capacity for pre and post operation patients; 8 beds for post-operative recovery of patients and 2 well equipped operation theatres.” He also added: “The recent information is that the organization (WAHA) is working with UoG to upgrade the center to the level of sub-specialty (URO-gynecology) training center.” This will obviously make UoG a pioneer national institution in this specific area.
Dr. Mulu Muleta, WAHA, Country Director and UoG’s honorary staff, Sister Aster Teshome representative from FMOH, Sr. Zebideru Zewdie, vice head of the Amhara regional Health bureau. Dr. Ambaye W/Michael, WAHA staff, and Mr. Denis Robinson, representative of Johnson & Johonson from England were the other speakers of the occasion. Almost all the speakers stressed the need for much greater intensification of efforts at all levels to eradicate Fistula, which calls for enhanced and tight integrity amongst responsible bodies and partners nationally and internationally.
Dr Mulu explained that her organization and its partners were recently successful more than ever to bring more number of fistula victims to the center because of an effective strategy they applied in collaboration with the FMOH by integrating the national house to house polio service program with their Fistula eradication campaign.
Mr. Denis Robinson, representative of Johnson & Johnson, which is a longtime partner and the sponsor of the recent campaign and the international Fistula day event, explained that he is gratified for what he saw during his visit in Gondar fistula center and the income generating reintegration service being offered at Dabat.
Dr. Ambaye W/Michael in her part said: “…today we are here not only to celebrate and share what we have already achieved but to continue doing more on what needs to be done to make a difference in the life of the women who become a victim of obstetric fistula and prevent complications of child birth injuries in general.” To the same end, she added: “…in spirit of true cooperation the ministry of health, ministry of education, ministry of women affair and family planning association with all their stake-holders must be joined in action-oriented effort to tackle and solve the problems that causes obstetric fistula.”
During the ceremony, photograph exhibition showing what has been carried out in Gondar Fistula center, and related issues were displayed to a the attendants of the event and several patients gave their testimonies on the overall services they have been offered with during their stay in the center.
Reported by:Elias Menbere
Vice Director, International relations
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