Legislation Could Save Lives of Millions of Women Globally
Reps. Mike Castle (R-DE) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) recently introduced legislation, the Obstetric Fistula Prevention, Treatment, Hope and Dignity Restoration Act of 2010, H.R. 5441, which would authorize funding to prevent and treat women suffering from obstetric fistula, a horrific and debilitating condition that occurs in women after prolonged labor, predominantly in sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East.
"I am pleased to be working with Rep. Maloney on this maternal health initiative, which will help address the avoidable agony caused by obstetric fistula," Rep. Castle said. "By focusing on a coordinated and locally relevant approach to prevention and treatment, we can improve the health of women and children around the globe and give them a chance at living full and productive lives."
"Women around the world are needlessly suffering from the horrors of obstetric fistula. The World Health Organization estimates that between 50,000-100,000 new cases of obstetric fistula develop each year, adding to the estimated 2 million current cases-- yet this condition is almost entirely preventable, and treatable in 90 percent of cases when it does occur," Rep. Maloney said. "This bill will help ease the suffering of women suffering with obstetric fistula and demonstrate the United States' commitment to the health of women and children around the world."
The bill supports a comprehensive approach to end obstetric fistula -- prevention to eliminate occurrences, treatment to repair those women who already suffer, and rehabilitation to help those recovering fully heal and reenter society. It focuses on efforts to build local capacity and improve national systems to prevent and treat obstetric fistula.
Reps. Castle and Maloney also sent a letter to their colleagues urging them to support HR 5441. The letter also announced a briefing to take place to discuss this devastating issue this Thursday, June 10. The briefing will include presentations from the following people:
* Sarah Omega, a Kenyan woman whose dramatic personal story illustrates the trauma of fistula
* Joseph Ruminjo, Clinical Director of Fistula Care who worked as a fistula surgeon in Kenya prior to joining EngenderHealth
* Josephine Elechi, First Lady of Ebonyi State in southeastern Nigeria and founder of the Mother and Child Care Initiative
* Agnes Odhiambo of Human Rights Watch and researcher on this issue.
* UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund), and EngenderHealth representatives who will discuss successful partnerships in communities to prevent and treat fistula and simultaneously strengthen health systems