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The Deputy Regional Minister of the Upper East Region, Dr. Robert Baba Kuganab-Lem, has advised all males to take the message of ending obstetric fistula to other men as they have heard it spoken to them.  The Honourable Deputy Minister gave this advice at Bawku in the Upper East Region where a community durbar was held to commemorate the fourth in the series of commemorations of the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula. The day is set aside by the UN to create awareness on obstetric fistula. This year it was celebrated under the theme “End fistula within a generation”.

Obstetric fistula is one of the most serious injuries of childbearing. It occurs when there is an abnormal hole created between a woman’s vagina, rectum and/or bladder following prolonged labour during childbirth. Ghana joined the rest of the world to mark the day so as to reflect on progress made, raise awareness, and generate increased policy and community actions for the condition.

In a welcome address, the Municipal Chief Executive, Mr. Bukari Issaku thanked the people of Bawku for allowing peace to reign and thus enabling Ghana to select Bawku for the celebration of such an important event. He said conflict, is one of the factors that could make a pregnant woman vulnerable since she cannot be guaranteed a safe access to skilled delivery when labour starts particularly in the night because the shootings and killings are also done around that time. He entreated all citizens of the area to be all for peace now and always to keep women safe.

UNFPA Representative Dr. Babatunde Ahonsi said the persistence of fistula is a result of denied human rights which simply means failure to address obstetric fistula is a human rights failure and the woman or girl affected is doubly victimized in the circumstances of the cause and in the consequences of its aftermath. He asked a critical question: how long shall we wait to see our sisters, mothers, aunts go through such an ordeal when we can prevent it from happening?  The Representative then concluded urging everyone to pledge here and now, that - Not a day longer will they allow fistula to occur in the lives of women and girls. “The action is now,  and let us, once and for all, put an end to this assault on women’s and girls’ health and human rights, which steals from them their very dignity and destroys the most fundamental of human qualities: hope. Let us all work together to wipe fistula off the map” he concluded.

Dr. Gabriel Ganyaglo a surgeon from Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital and a member of the National Fistula Taskforce who spoke on behalf of the team, pleaded with faith based organizations and other philanthropists to help in the fight against fistula by providing for the care of fistula survivors especially while on admission. He urged the Municipal and District Assemblies as well as Ministries, Departments and Agencies to also ensure that funds are set aside to cater for the feeding cost and re-integration of fistula survivors back into their communities. He said the country should be looking at supporting fistula clients in the light of dwindling donor resources as he considered this as very important and critical for the sustainability of the programme to end fistula.

Ms. Cynthia Sinabisi who quietly mobilized seventeen fistula clients in Bawku and its environs for repairs gave a testimony of her own journey from fistula to recovery and dignity. She gave an account of how her husband supported her throughout the predicament till she found hope and that support facilitated her strong recovery and integration into the community as compared to her other colleagues who were abandoned by their husbands when they got affected.

Dr. John Alare Aburi the Manager of Presbyterian Health Unit who chaired the event re-emphasized that all men and community leaders need to be more involved in information sharing and caring for the improvement of maternal health. He also asked them to listen and take the message to others as earlier mentioned by the Deputy Regional Minister. Take it to others as you have heard it spoken to you and be a strong partner to your spouse. The opportunity was used to present fistula kits to the three regions in the north. Present at the function were Municipal and District Chief Executives from Garu-Tempane and Nabdam, the Paramount Chief of Bawku and Overlord of the Kusaug Traditional Area Naaba Abugrago Asigri Azoka II as well as the paramount queen of Bawku Puanab Alasbuudi Abugrago Azoka 1.