Medical Lecture Series - Obstetric Fistula
Recently, to mark International Women's Day 2011, Médecins Sans Frontières Australia's Medical Advisor and Women's Health specialist Bronwyn Hale presented a series of lectures at hospitals across Australia and New Zealand on the importance of emergency obstetrics to prevent obstetric fistula.
Thank you to all that attended the lecture series this year. Please read on for more information about this disease, which was almost completely eliminated over 100 years ago in developed countries but remains highly prevalent especially in sub-Saharan Africa.
The main cause of obstetric fistula – obstructed labour – is also one of the leading causes of maternal mortality in the developing world. Around 90% of cases are obstetric fistulas which result from obstructed labour. The baby is often stillborn or dies within the first week of life. The obstructed labour means that the physical trauma of the labour and the delivery can leave the mother with a fistula (hole) between her vagina and bladder, or vagina and rectum, which can leak urine, faeces or both. She then has to deal with not only grief but a disability that is highly stigmatising.
Médecins Sans Frontières is working to provide emergency obstetric care to prevent fistula and, where fistula occurs, surgical programs that can repair the fistula and thus aim to restore the woman’s health and dignity. Our main programs are in Nigeria, Burundi and Chad and you can learn more about them here.