We were touched and appalled by the sadness of our first fistula patient: a beautiful young woman in urine-soaked ragged clothes, sitting alone in our outpatients department away from the other waiting patients. We knew she was more in need than any of the others. 

– Dr Catherine Hamlin

The good in humanity: Dr Catherine Hamlin

If we ever need proof of the good in humanity, we only need to think of Dr Catherine Hamlin.

In March 2020, we lost one of the world’s great humanitarians. Catherine was a living, breathing saint.

Click below to flip through a booklet about Catherine’s lifetime of caring.

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Dr Catherine Hamlin AC
Dr Catherine Hamlin AC

Transforming maternal care

Catherine and Reg Hamlin travelled to Ethiopia for the first time over 60 years ago, and initially only planned to stay for three years. On the evening of their arrival in Ethiopia, a fellow gynaecologist told them, “The fistula patients will break your hearts.” And they did.

The Hamlins had never seen an obstetric fistula case before and there was little or no treatment available in Ethiopia.

Catherine and Reg Hamlin refused to turn their backs on the women of Ethiopia.

These two surgical pioneers remained in Ethiopia following their initial three-year posting to continue treating the most marginalised women: those who have suffered an obstetric fistula, an internal injury caused by an obstructed childbirth, which leaves a woman incontinent, humiliated and isolated.

They went about dramatically transforming the maternal healthcare landscape for the women of Ethiopia.

Today, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia remains 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 Hamlin dream

My dream is to eradicate obstetric fistula. Forever. I won’t do this in my lifetime, but you can in yours.

– Dr Catherine Hamlin

Dr Catherine Hamlin AC
Dr Catherine Hamlin AC

Dr Catherine Hamlin AC

Dr Catherine Hamlin’s work for obstetric fistula sufferers in Ethiopia continued uninterrupted for more than half a century, with more than 60,000 patients treated. Catherine was twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and received numerous international awards and acknowledgements for her dedication and pioneering work.

List of awards

A Lifetime of Caring


Read our blog posts about Dr Catherine Hamlin.
Give to Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation.
Visit the Catherine Hamlin shop.

Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation has one purpose and one purpose only: eradicating fistula. Forever.