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UN Campaign Receives Award

UN Campaign Helping Global South Combat Obstetric Fistula Receives Award

New York, Dec 18 2008 1:10PM

A United Nations-backed campaign aimed at eliminating obstetric fistula, a debilitating injury resulting from giving birth, has been recognized with an award for championing collaboration between countries of the global South, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) announced today.

www.endfistula.comThe Campaign to End Fistula, launched by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) in 2003, now works in 45 countries in combating the condition, which involves a hole in the birth canal caused by prolonged labour without prompt medical intervention, usually a Caesarean section. The woman is left with chronic incontinence and, in most cases, a stillborn baby.

The award committee highlighted the UNFPA campaign’s innovative approach in the prevention and treatment of obstetric fistula and the rehabilitation of fistula survivors, in particular the sharing of knowledge to rapidly advance the expertise among countries in the global South.

In one programme, UNFPA organized a three-day a marathon training session for medical staff from four Asian countries held at a hospital in the Bangladeshi city of Sylhet, during which 29 women suffering from obstetric fistula underwent successful surgery.

Teams of experienced surgeons, nurses and anaesthesiologists from Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Timor-Leste performed the procedures to share knowledge on fistula repair, while other local medical staff and students observed.

“We are extremely proud of this recognition,” said Director of the UNFPA Sub-Regional Office in Dakar, Senegal, Faustin Yao.

“It is so important to the millions of women living with this terrible condition. By strengthening South-South cooperation, national health systems can shorten the learning curve in addressing this problem,” he added.

The UNFPA campaign aims to eliminate fistula by 2015 by preventing and restoring the health and dignity of women living with its consequences. In the past five years, the campaign has raised more than $25 million in contributions and educated tens of thousands of individuals, community leaders and policymakers about the condition.

UNDP is slated to present awards to six organizations tomorrow, including UNFPA, at UN Headquarters in New York as part of the Global South-South Development Expo, an initiative commemorating the UN Day for South-South Cooperation.

ENDS

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