Welcome Remarks by Ambassador Haslach at Fistula Elimination Conference

High Level Invitees:

  • First Lady Roman Tesfaye Abneh,
  • Honorable Dr. Kesetebirhan Admasu, Minister of Health;
  • Distinguished representatives of local and international organizations;

It gives me the greatest honor and pleasure to be here today to pledge the U.S. Government’s support for the Government of Ethiopia’s unprecedented commitment to End Fistula and Transform Lives by 2020.

We applaud the Federal Ministry of Health for its renewed focus on obstetric fistula and for taking the bold step of developing a Plan of Action to eliminate fistula by the year 2020.

This is a very important step because untreated fistula can have a devastating impact on women’s lives due to a whole range of physical, psychological and socio-economic consequences.

Fistula can be prevented and successfully treated and survivors, who have often been ostracized, can be reintegrated into their communities.

In Ethiopia, we have world renowned skills and experience in Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, and resources to do both – allowing us to greatly improve the lives of many thousands of women.

The U.S. Government, through USAID, has a long history of supporting the Government of Ethiopia’s efforts to address obstetric fistula, through various projects, over the past eight years.

In 2005, the U.S. Congress also set aside special funding to support the treatment, management, and prevention of obstetric fistula.

Since 2007, USAID has partnered with the Ethiopian government to support necessary pre-surgical preparations such as counseling, nutritional support and treatment for infections before referring patients to Hamlin hospitals for treatment. We have also funded hundreds of fistula repairs through our support to Hamlin hospitals.

Since 2008, through USAID’s Integrated Family Health Program, implemented by Pathfinder/JSI, the U.S. Government has also supported the Ethiopian Government to sensitize communities about obstetric fistula prevention and the availability of repair services.

We have also trained and supported community health workers and other health service providers to refer women with fistula to Hamlin regional centers or the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital for more complicated cases. USAID also supports women to reintegrate into their communities after surgery.

We look forward to this renewed collaboration and stand ready to support this new innovative approach to identify every single woman in Ethiopia who suffers this horrible plight. We are also ready to support the Federal Ministry of Health with technical and other assistance to strengthen collaboration at all levels, toward achieving elimination by 2020.

I wish you every success in your important work. I have no doubt it will be a great success because of the evident enthusiasm and commitment of all stakeholders, joining hands with the Government of Ethiopia, and each other, to End Fistula and Transform Lives by 2020.