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Towards Ending Fistula in The Gambia - First Steps on Creating Public Awareness

UNFPA official addresses women at the Bundung Maternal and Child Health Hospital

Pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood, are meant to be filled with beautiful memories, endless joy and intimate connection between mother and child. However, Obstetric Fistula has taken away this beautiful experiences from nearly 2 million women globally. Obstetric Fistula is a childbirth injury, obtained as a result of prolonged, obstructed labour. Each year, the 23rd of May, is commemorated as the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula. The theme for this year’s celebration is “Leaving no one behind: let us commit to end Fistula now!”

To commemorate International Day to End Obstetric Fistula 2018, UNFPA The Gambia officials, along with the Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal, Child and Adolescent Health Unit of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, visited two local hospitals - Bundung Maternal and Child Health Hospital and Sinchu Baliya Health Post, to hold Health Talks with women about the condition. The Health Talks were aimed at sensitizing communities on Obstetric Fistula, and encourage potential patients to register, in preparation for UNFPA The Gambia’s upcoming Fistula Camp, expected to take place within the next couple of months. Approximately 400 women attending antenatal visits or childhood immunization visits, were present at the Health Talks.

For most of these women, the Health Talk was their first time to hear about Fistula. It was therefore key, that the discussions detailed out the causes, signs and symptoms of fistula in the languages they understood – Mandinka, Wolof and Fula. From the discussions, it was highlighted that, teen mothers are especially susceptible to obstetric fistula, as their bodies are not fully ready for childbirth. Mr. Ivan Coker, Hospital Administrator at the Bundung Maternal and Child Health Hospital, echoed that, by encouraging all women, especially young birthing mothers, to seek antenatal services and hospital deliveries, they can be prevented from experiencing Fistula.  


It was of significant importance, that the women present, were aware of the warning signs of Fistula, to increase recognition not only in themselves, but in their neighbors, family members, and friends. Women showing signs, were urged to go to the hospital and register themselves in an effort to produce a Fistula count, that shows the magnitude of the condition in The Gambia. Currently, statistics regarding the issue are limited. Mr. Alieu Jammeh, Programme Analyst, Reproductive Health Commodity Security at UNFPA, encouraged the women to sympathize with fistula patients by exercising empathy and supporting them to access medical facilities, for treatment. 

“Pregnancy comes with many challenges and labour in itself, is enough pain for us women. If bringing life to this world - a sacred responsibility bestowed on us women, demands that we deliver our babies under medical supervision and attention, we must adhere to this demand. Childbirth is a special experience that must not lead to any danger for neither mother, nor child. It is our responsibility to spread the word and ensure every woman experiences safe delivery.” said Amie Bah, a participant at the Health Talk, 

To wrap up the talks, women were urged to serve as advocates for an end to fistula, by educating ethic fellow women about the condition and be supportive of those already living with the condition and help them to receive medical attention.

Do you know women living with symptoms of Obstetric Fistula?

If you do, share love with them - assist them to receive medical attention.

We can end Obstetric Fistula. It starts with us!



For more information, contact:

Haddy Jonga

Programme Analyst, Communication

UNFPA The Gambia

Tel: +220 3303073