The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has helped 29 Bangladeshi women suffering from obstetric fistula, a debilitating injury resulting from giving birth, to undergo successful repair surgery as part of a marathon training session for medical staff from four Asian countries.
UNFPA said the three-day session last week, held at a hospital in the Bangladeshi city of Sylhet, was part of a wider national effort to boost the number of doctors and nurses skilled in treating fistulae.
This programme brought together teams of experienced surgeons, nurses and anaesthesiologists from Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Timor-Leste to conduct the surgeries and to share knowledge on fistula repair, while other local medical staff and students observed.
The operations took between two and five hours, depending on the extent of the injuries, UNFPA said in a press release issued yesterday. It will take several weeks to determine the overall outcome, but Bangladeshi doctors report there is usually a 70 per cent success rate in repairing fistulae.
About 1,200 Bangladeshi women have undergone fistula surgery since 2003, when the UNFPA-led Global Campaign to End Fistula started providing medical equipment and financial support for both training efforts and patient rehabilitation.
Obstetric fistula is 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.