Zambia’s Obstetric Fistula Strategic Plan

Zambia commemorated the International Day for the Elimination of Obstetric Fistula on May 23, 2023, highlighting the country’s dedication to addressing this persistent medical condition. With the theme “20 years on — progress but not enough! Act Now to End Fistula by 2030,” the commemoration emphasized the urgency of action. The Ministry of Health launched the Obstetric Fistula Strategic Plan, a comprehensive framework aimed at eradicating obstetric fistula, on this occasion.

The Obstetric Fistula Strategic Plan

The Ministry of Health took a proactive step by launching the Obstetric Fistula Strategic Plan. This comprehensive framework outlines the country’s approach to address obstetric fistula and sets targets for the period from 2022 to 2026. The strategic plan was developed in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund, highlighting the significance of partnerships in tackling this complex issue.

Understanding Obstetric Fistula

Obstetric fistula is a medical condition characterized by the presence of a hole between the birth canal and bladder and/or rectum. It typically occurs as a result of prolonged and obstructed labor without access to timely and high-quality medical interventions.

Addressing the Global Burden

Globally, over two million women live with obstetric fistula, with a significant proportion of cases concentrated in Africa. In Zambia alone, more than 33,000 women and girls were affected by obstetric fistula as of 2018, highlighting the urgent need for interventions and support.

Development of the Strategic Plan

The Obstetric Fistula Strategic Plan was developed jointly by the Ministry of Health and the United Nations Population Fund. This collaboration ensures a holistic and comprehensive approach to tackle obstetric fistula in Zambia, involving stakeholders from both national and international levels.

Direct Causes and Impediments

Obstetric fistula is directly caused by factors such as early-age childbearing, malnutrition, and limited access to emergency obstetric care. Indirect factors, including poverty and lack of education, further hinder women’s access to necessary services that could prevent the development of this condition.

Addressing Rural Healthcare Disparities

In rural areas of Zambia, only half of the women deliver with a skilled birth attendant, leading to higher rates of maternal mortality and childbirth injuries, including obstetric fistula. The strategic plan aims to address this disparity by focusing on service delivery at the national, provincial, district, health facility, and community levels.


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