Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation
The Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation, formerly Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia (Australia), is an independent charity established in Australia to raise funds for Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, to eradicate obstetric fistula. Dr Catherine Hamlin was our Founder and Patron. We exist to fulfil her vision to eradicate fistula. Forever. While this once seemed impossible, it is becoming a reality and there is now hope it could be achieved by 2030.
Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia
Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia focuses on treatment of obstetric fistulas; rehabilitation to mend the scars – both emotional and physical of childbirth injuries and finally on prevention, through an active program of training and deploying midwives to rural areas.
Today, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia is a healthcare network of over 550 Ethiopian staff servicing six hospitals, Desta Mender rehabilitation centre, the Hamlin College of Midwives and 80 Hamlin supported Midwifery Clinics. Hamlin is the reference organisation and leader in the fight to eradicate obstetric fistula around the world, blazing a trail for holistic treatment and care that empowers women to reassert their humanity, secure their health and well-being, and regain their roles in their families and communities.
The work of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia is only possible thanks to generous donors around the world. We won’t stop until fistula is eradicated. Forever.
The Need in Ethiopia
While Ethiopia is one of the fastest growing economies in Africa and is home to the African Union, Ethiopia carries an enormous population of poor people and is struggling with a lack of health services and infrastructure.
A woman dies every two minutes due to pregnancy and childbirth related complications.
For a population of 107 million, Ethiopia has less than 250 obstetricians/gynecologists and less than 13,000 trained midwives.
Most of these largely preventable deaths occur in low-income countries like Ethiopia and in poor and rural areas. The horrific death toll has halved in the last 20 years, from one woman dying in pregnancy or childbirth every minute, to one every two minutes. But there is still much work to be done.
There are only 156 hospitals in Ethiopia. Many of the hospitals are in cities and far from the rural population. Our obstetric fistula patients report that, on average, the nearest health facility is two days walk away from their homes. This trek is often done alone. Many women will stuff their clothes with rags to prevent leakage caused by the fistula. All risk ridicule and humiliation on their journey to be cured, but for them there is no practical choice as less than 15% receive any form of care from a skilled childbirth attendant.
Ethiopian women are actively involved in all aspects of their society’s life. Women are both producers and procreators and they are also active participants in the social, political, and cultural activities of their communities. Obstetric fistula not only disables the woman in so many ways, the entire village feels the effects. Women with obstetric fistula are often outcast and therefore unproductive. Their family and community suffer.
No woman should suffer this horrendous childbirth injury and humiliation. These women are the lepers of the 21st century, and although the condition is entirely preventable, up to 39,000 women in Ethiopia still suffer this condition. By treating an obstetric fistula patient, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia helps to rehabilitate communities as well.