Fistula surgeon recognized with UN Population Award

Submitted by bhushan on Fri, 05/06/2022 - 09:21

Dr. Marchesini, originally from Italy, learned to treat obstetric fistula in 1973, while training at a hospital in Uganda. He knew immediately that he would devote his life to the cause.

The following year, 1974, I went to Mozambique and I began to operate on every woman appearing in my hospital,” Dr. Marchesini said. Those who arrived for treatment were “suffering and rejected women,” he explained.

His work took him all over the country, to hospitals in Quelimane, Mocuba, Tete and Songo. For years, he was the only doctor in Mozambique treating the condition.

Father Aldo Marchesini operates on a fistula patient in Gurue, Mozambique. Photo: UNFPA Mozambique, 2014.

He stayed through the country’s long post-independence civil war, during which he was kidnapped and imprisoned a number of times. But his chief complaint was that women – who had already faced enormous challenges accessing health care – had an even harder time seeking treatment.

“During the civil war, it was very difficult to travel by car or bus. The number of (fistula patients) in our hospital diminished because only patients near Quelimane were able to come to the hospital,” he said. Instead, he went to them. “I was able to go to some provinces for campaigns of two to three weeks by flights with small aircrafts,” he said

Dr. Marchesini has personally operated on more than 1,000 women as a chief surgeon, and as a teacher, he has overseen the treatment of many hundreds of others. But his most lasting contribution will be through the skills he imparts to local healthcare providers. By some estimates, all the physicians in Mozambique now treating obstetric fistula received their training from him.

Established by the General Assembly in 1981, the UN Population Award is presented each year to a laureate or laureates who have made outstanding contributions in the fields of population and health.

The award committee is chaired by the Czech Republic Ambassador to the UN, Edita Hrdá, and consists of representatives of Bangladesh, Côte d’Ivoire, Denmark, Grenada, Jamaica, Qatar, the United Republic of Tanzania, Nigeria and Pakistan. Members of the committee also include UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin.

The awards were presented by Deputy Secretary-General of the UN Jan Eliasson at a ceremony at UN Headquarters.

"The Population Award is an expression of our joint commitment to ensure a life of dignity for all and to build a world in which every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled," said Mr. Eliasson, adding: "The commitment of Father Marchesini embody these goals."

Read the original article.

Fistula surgeon recognized with UN Population Award