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International Day to End Obstetric Fistula 2023 – May 23

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International Day to End Obstetric Fistula - May 23 2023United Nations (UN)’s International Day to End Obstetric Fistula is annually observed across the globe on May 23 to raise awareness about obstetric fistula and to promote actions towards its prevention, treatment, and eventual elimination.

  • The theme of the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula 2023 observed on 23rd May 2023 is “20 years on – progress but not enough! Act now to end fistula by 2030!”.


i. The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the resolution A/RES/67/147 on 20th December 2012 and proclaimed May 23 of every year as International Day to End Obstetric Fistula.

ii. The 1st ever International Day to End Obstetric Fistula was observed on 23rd May 2013. 

About Obstetric Fistula:

i. Obstetric fistula is one of the most serious and tragic childbirth injuries.

ii. It is a hole between the birth canal and bladder and/or rectum, which is caused by prolonged, obstructed labour without access to timely, high-quality medical treatment.

iii. It causes women and girls to leak urine, faeces, or both and frequently causes depression, social isolation, and worsening poverty.

  • 90% of pregnancies involving fistula end in stillbirth.

Campaign to End Fistula:

i. In 2003, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and its partners launched a global Campaign to End Fistula.

ii. The campaign is in line with international targets to improve maternal and newborn health and with the goal of making obstetric fistula as rare in developing countries as in the developed world.

iii. The 20-year-old campaign reflects a commitment to fistula prevention and holistic care, which includes surgical repair, social reintegration, and rehabilitation.

Ending obstetric fistula by 2030:

i. Obstetric fistula is preventable; it can largely be avoided by: delaying the age of the first pregnancy; the cessation of harmful traditional practices; and timely access to obstetric care.

ii. The UN is running with a global target to eliminate fistula by the year 2030 under its Sustainable Development Goals, for which the UNFPA is leading a global campaign to end fistula and transform the lives of vulnerable women and girls.

Key Points:

i. In over 55 countries across sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, the Pacific, the Arab States, Latin America, and the Caribbean, over 5 lakh women and girls live with fistula, and there are thousands more new cases annually.

ii. The UNFPA has assisted with over 1,21,000 significant repairs since 2003.

  • They backed nearly 9,000 fistula surgeries in 2021 alone, including 164 women and girls whose condition was previously believed to be incurable.

iii. 80% of countries established reintegration mechanisms for fistula survivors, and 54% included mental health services in fistula treatment through the UNFPA initiatives.

About the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA):

i. UNFPA began operating in 1969 as the United Nations Fund for Population Activities.

ii. UNFPA is the UN’s sexual and reproductive health agency.

Executive Director- Dr Natalia Kanem
Headquarters- New York, United States of America (USA)