2018 Program Achievements

In the 2018 financial year, we came several steps closer to achieving Dr Catherine Hamlin’s dream – and yours – of a fistula-free Ethiopia.

Here’s a quick rundown of achievements in Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia’s three program areas: Treatment, Prevention and Rehabilitation, plus what we need to do next.

These remarkable results were made possible by you, our supporters. Thank you.


To eradicate obstetric fistula in Ethiopia, we first need to repair the injuries and restore the dignity of affected women.

In FY2018, the number of fistulas treated at Hamlin hospitals was similar to the previous year. And it’s estimated that every day, 10 women in Ethiopia still develop an obstetric fistula.

That’s a lot of women who still need help.

Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia is now focusing on reaching these new fistula patients more quickly, by collaborating with partners and communities to identify new cases of women in need of treatment.

Hamlin surgeons are also refining the techniques they use to treat more complex fistulas. Their goal is that by 2021, more than 95 per cent of complex fistula injuries will be successfully treated.

The Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital remains a world-recognised training facility for fistula surgeons. In 2018, five doctors trained at the hospital. They are now using their skills to help women in Madagascar, Ghana, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The Panzi Hospital in DRC, founded by 2018 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Dr Denis Mukwege, is one of the hospitals that benefited from training by the Hamlin surgical team this year.


The second step in ending obstetric fistula is to provide every expecting mother with access to a trained midwife, regardless of where she lives. 

It’s now more than a decade since the Hamlin College of Midwives was established, and it has transformed the landscape of maternal healthcare in Ethiopia.

Fistulas happen when a woman is left in obstructed labour for days. A midwife can identify problems early and arrange transportation to a hospital – not only preventing a fistula, but potentially saving the life of both mother and child.

In 2018, 20 midwives graduated from the Hamlin College of Midwives. They are now returning to their communities, to provide expert maternal health care where none existed before.

A further 125 Hamlin midwives have already graduated, to work in remote rural areas. Meanwhile, 95 students are currently studying for the four-year degree, and soon, a new two-year Master’s degree will open to give midwives the opportunity for specialised study.

Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia continues to support 48 Midwifery Clinics where Ethiopian women can access quality maternal healthcare. There are plans to increase this number in the next four years.


Every woman who suffers a fistula has been through trauma. Nine times out of 10, they have also lost their baby. Meanwhile, they are shunned by their communities and often by their families.

It has always been Dr Catherine Hamlin’s dream to help these women rewrite their stories, from ones of loss and powerlessness, to ones of courage and hope.

The rehabilitation centre at Desta Mender (meaning ‘Joy Village’) has continued to give women with more complex fistula injuries a place to heal with physiotherapy and counselling, and grow with education and training.

These lessons are a stepping stone to greater independence and opportunity. This year, we saw 336 women return to their homes following specialised counselling, recovered enough to thrive in community life. All had new skills and independence.

There were 43 women who underwent Hamlin’s three-month Rehabilitation and Reintegration program. Some received Hamlin facilitated government grants to set up their own small businesses.

By 2022, these uniquely individual three-month programs will be provided to five times as many women. In the next two years, the team at Desta Mender plan to establish a Fistula Survivor Association and provide more support visits to reintegrated women.

Like Dr Catherine Hamlin, we know that an empowered woman creates an empowered community, which in turn creates an
empowered world.

Click here to read more about what we do and the Hamlin Model of Care.

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