Access Bank Ghana has launched an Obstetric Fistula Campaign tagged ‘Fist Against Fistula’, which will help repair 100 women living with fistula, and also create awareness on fistula in Ghana.
The bank is embarking on this initiative in partnership with Kaysens Gaisie Ltd., The Mercy Women’s Catholic Hospital, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) as well as the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection.
According to the Managing Director of Access Bank Ghana, Ifeanyi Njoku: “Access Bank has over the past few years been a pacesetter for women empowerment through its award-winning ‘W’ initiative, which continues to serve as a means of advancing the cause of women from all walks of life to foster the country’s economic development”.
He added that the ‘W’ initiative remains a key developmental focus for the bank, considering that women form the larger majority of Ghana’s populace and are most likely to be affected by a wide range of developmental challenges.
Mr. Ifeanyi made reference to the tremendous work done by both local and international partners in the fight against fistula in the past, but he believes there is more that needs to be done to conquer this “social calamity” as it grows at an alarming rate; and as a result, Access Bank has felt an urgent need to join the fight against the disease.
Otiko Afisah Djaba – the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection and special guest of honor at the event – commended Access Bank for the initiative, which she believes will restore dignity, happiness and hope for marginalised women suffering from fistula.
“Peculiar socio-cultural dynamics including issues of early marriage, teenage pregnancy, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), cultural and religious beliefs account for obstetric fistula,” she said.
The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, she said, has identified the plight of fistula patients and been supported with funds by ECOWAS Gender Development Centre (EGDC) with an intervention aimed at supporting women and young girls suffering from obstetric fistula to be repaired and reintegrated into society.
“Obstetric fistula kills the hope of women; it kills the expectations of women,” she noted.
Dr. Ernest Aseidu, in a speech he read on behalf of the Minister of Health, stated that we are on the right path in the fight against obstetric fistula with the kind of programmes which have been launched over the past few years, as far as the Health Sector Medium Term Development Plan is concerned.
Ms. Otiko advised that all persons with any social-related problems – including health and especially obstetric fistula – to call the ministry’s toll-free lines to report their issues to the ministry.
Obstetric Fistula is a medical condition where a hole develops between the vagina, rectum and bladder as a result of prolonged or obstructed labour. The affected women leak urine or faeces or both through the birth canal, which end often results in neglect and isolation of patients.