Today join me and the rest of the world as we mark this year’s International Day to End Obstetric Fistula.
This year’s theme of Leaving no one behind: Let us commit to ending fistula now! is well aligned to the principle of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development Goals, the Government’s agenda for Universal Health Care coverage, as well the Beyond Zero’s Strategic Framework 2018-2022.
Globally, it is estimated that there are over two million women and girls living with obstetric fistula, most of whom are in developing countries. Obstetric fistula remains a great challenge to many Kenyan women. According to a recent needs assessment by UNFPA, there are between 1000 to 3000 new cases every year. Sadly, it seems that the number of women affected is not declining.
Obstetric fistula results from poor access to emergency obstetric care. It is a critical moment to raise awareness about this preventable and dreadful condition that girls and women suffer due obstructed labour and child birth injuries. While many women have improved access to skilled birth attendance, more than half a million give birth at home thereby risking their lives and compromising their health as well as the health of their new-borns.
Efforts in ending fistula are critically under-resourced and require all of us to work together to build capacity of health workers, mobilize communities to encourage women and girls to come forward for assistance, to provide hospital equipment and to fund fistula repair including the re-integration of survivors through social inclusion and introduction of economic activities.
I encourage more partnerships between local and international organizations including the private sector towards improving health systems to ensure that families access high quality and affordable health care as guided by the University Health Care agenda.
Through my new Strategic Framework, I commit to lending my voice to eliminate obstetric fistula and advocate for the inclusion of fistula repairs within the current NHIF free maternity service package.
Let us Leave no one behind: Let us commit to ending fistula now in Kenya.
MARGARET KENYATTA, FIRST LADY OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA