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

Dr Catherine Hamlin AC

Celebrating the woman who gave life to an idea

On 24 January 2019, Dr Catherine Hamlin celebrated her 95th birthday – a milestone. 2019 also marks 60 years since Drs Catherine and Reg Hamlin first arrived in Ethiopia, forever changing the country’s maternal healthcare landscape. It’s remarkable that for 60 of her 95 years, Catherine has been completely committed to transforming the lives of some of the most vulnerable women in the world. These women really are her life story.

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60th Anniversary Inspiration Gift Pack

To celebrate this milestone year, we’ve put together an inspiration gift pack! The pack includes Catherine’s books, The Hospital By the River, and Catherine’s Gift as well as our ‘A Lifetime of Caring’ Gift from the Heart card and the Hamlin Shopping Tote Bag.

Dr Hamlin still lives on the grounds of the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital. Catherine and her team have now treated more than 60,000 women suffering with a fistula.

Buy your pack here

Dr Catherine Hamlin AC
Dr Catherine Hamlin AC

Transforming maternal care

Catherine and Reg Hamlin travelled to Ethiopia for the first time 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.

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 has continued uninterrupted for more than half a century, with more than 60,000 patients treated. Catherine has twice been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and has received numerous international awards and acknowledgements for her dedication and pioneering work. She is the NSW Senior Australian of the Year for 2018.

List of awards

A Lifetime of Caring


Read our blog posts about Dr Catherine Hamlin here.

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