Obstetric fistula is one of these injuries - and it is almost entirely preventable. However, 2 million women in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and the Arab region are living with fistula, and some 50,000 to 100,000 new cases develop each year. The persistence of fistula is a signal that health systems are failing to meet the needs of women.
Obstetric fistula is a hole in the vagina or rectum caused by labour that is prolonged – often for days – without treatment. Usually the baby dies. Because the fistula leaves women leaking urine or faeces, or both, it typically results in social isolation, depression and deepening poverty. Left untreated, fistula can lead to chronic medical problems.
In 2003, UNFPA spearheaded the global Campaign to End Fistula, which is working in more than 35 countries to prevent and treat fistula, and to help rehabilitate and empower women after treatment.
Here, watch Sarah Omega speak about her own personal experience with obstetric fistula and what you can do to help.
LIFE WITH OBSTETRIC FISUTLA
HOW SARAH'S LIFE HAS CHANGED SINCE HER OPERATION
SARAH'S MESSAGE TO THE WORLD COMMUNITY ABOUT FISTULA