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Ghana Mobilizes $405,000 to Combat Obstetric Fistula

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Report By: Ishmael Barfi


In efforts to eradicate obstetric fistula in Ghana, an amount of USD 405,000 has been mobilized under the Partnership to End Obstetric Fistula in Ghana (PEFIG) to improve the health of women.
This was announced by the Country Representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Ghana, Dr. Wilfred Ochan, during the commemoration of the 2024 International Day to End Obstetric Fistula (IDEOF) on Thursday, 23 May 2024 at La Palm Royal Beach Hotel, Accra.

According to him, “The commemoration of the annual International Day to End Obstetric Fistula (IDEOF) is not just ‘another talk shop.’ Important actions are taking place to improve the health and well-being of fistula survivors.”

UNFPA Country Representative Dr. Wilfred Ochan

This year’s commemoration was under the theme “Breaking the cycle: Preventing Obstetric Fistula in Ghana.”

Obstetric fistula is a debilitating childbirth injury that unduly affects women in low-income settings, facilitating health inequalities and limiting women’s access to maternal healthcare.

Speaking on progress, the UNFPA Country Rep indicated that Ghana has made considerable progress in efforts to eliminate the disease and restore the dignity and womanhood of girls and women suffering from fistula since last year’s commemoration.

“The novel Partnership to End Obstetric Fistula in Ghana (PEFIG) was launched by Her Excellency, the First Lady of the Republic of Ghana, Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo, on December 6, 2023. Since then, PEFIG has collectively mobilized and leveraged USD 405,000 to support obstetric fistula programming, including the reintegration of repaired clients,” he said.

With regards to membership, Dr. Ochan revealed that PEFIG’s membership has seen membership increase from seven to 13 organizations, including the private sector, banks, and media entities, reflecting a robust coalition against this debilitating condition.

UNFPA Country Rep, Dr. Wilfred Ochan in a group picture with Ghana’s First Lady, H.E Rebecca Akufo-Addo

On the number of obstetric fistula repairs, the UNFPA Country Representative explained that the numbers have increased significantly, noting that out of the 50 repairs done last year, 38 were completed in the fourth quarter alone, around the mobilization and launch of PEFIG.

Adding that, This represents over a 200% increase in the usual annual repairs and further disclosed that there were ongoing efforts to expand the partnership to reach 20 organizations and further mobilize resources for fistula-holding homes.

“We are in advanced discussions with partners such as the Qatar Charity Organisation, which is considering constructing fistula holding centers within selected hospitals as patient wards for pre-and post-repair care,” he stated.

On closing the gaps, Dr. Ochan lamented that approximately 1,300 new cases of obstetric fistula occur annually in Ghana underscoring the urgent need for increased efforts and pragmatic steps to close gaps in the campaign to end this devastating condition.

Therefore shows the importance of accelerating efforts towards integrated fistula programming and enhancing the quality of health care delivery.

Based on the above alarming statistics, he reaffirmed UNFPA’s commitment to continuing to invest in eliminating fistula through various health system strengthening initiatives.

Ghana Mobilizes $405,000 to Combat Obstetric Fistula

These include providing medical equipment to fistula centers, supporting case identification, advocating for fistula repairs as part of routine health care services, building the capacity of fistula surgeons, and supporting evidence-based research and the reintegration of clients.

“This year, UNFPA aims to increase the number of repairs to 200 cases by the end of the year.

This goal, set during the launch of the PEFIG last year, also involves collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service, and PEFIG members to support other health system building blocks like infrastructure, research, and medical equipment,” he reiterated.

The above commitment is to add up to UNFPA’s contributions made last year including the donation of beds to the Mankessim Fistula Center and facilitating the repair and reintegration of clients.

First Lady of the Republic, H.E Rebecca Akufo-Addo

For her part, the First Lady, Her Excellency Rebecca Akufo-Addo, emphasized the importance of addressing healthcare barriers to ensure women and their babies reach their full potential for health and well-being.

She further reiterated the need for resilient health systems to tackle these challenges.

She also acknowledged Ghana’s successes in developing efficient health systems for safe reproductive health outcomes but highlighted that significant challenges remain.

“We still have a lot of challenges to address. By being here, we are all affirming our commitment to resolve challenges with fistula in Ghana,” she added.

The First Lady Her Excellency Rebecca Akufo-Addo lauded the Partnership to End Fistula in Ghana for its role in increasing the number of repairs from the usual 8 to 10 annually to 50 cases last year.

She used the occasion to announce her office’s commitment to 20 fistula repairs and urged other corporate organizations to join the partnership for increased impact.



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