UN Adopts Resolution on Obstetric Fistula

On December 18, 2014, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on obstetric fistula. The resolution calls for increased support to accelerate progress on Millennium Development Goal 5, which aims for improved maternal health and the elimination of fistula. The Millennium Development Goals are set to expire at the close of 2015, so the resolution is aimed at making more substantial progress on MDG 5 in the time remaining.

The resolution in part aims to make fistula a “notifiable condition.” In doing so, fistula survivors would register and be tracked in order to better facilitate essential treatment and follow-up care, including for future pregnancies. Notably, the resolution calls for the involvement of men and adolescent boys to help eliminate the condition, likely as a nod to the gender equality campaign He For She from UN Women. Additionally, the resolution calls on member states to address shortages in health systems capacity, including midwives, which limit their ability to treat fistula.

The resolution was co-sponsored by 150 member-states and adopted by consensus. The text of the resolution was by the Committee on Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Issues in November.