Zinash’s story transformed from struggle to joy through the extraordinary care and love of the staff at Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia. For Zinash, being referred to a Hamlin fistula hospital was life changing, and the care she received would end her suffering from fistula once and for all. Living in a small rural town in southern Ethiopia, Zinash’s story highlights the importance of access to quality maternal health care in preventing and treating obstetric fistula.
The importance of health care throughout pregnancy
As her town had relatively good access to health care and educational facilities, Zinash attended school until she got married and began to start a family. Greatly concerned for the health of herself and her children throughout pregnancy, Zinash and her husband followed professional advice and received care at their local medical clinic throughout the pregnancies of their three children. Zinash also went to the government hospital in her hometown to deliver her children.
A devastating childbirth injury
It was during the delivery of her third child that Zinash encountered obstetric fistula. As she had done with her previous pregnancies, Zinash knew that she was entering labour and headed to her local hospital to deliver the baby with the assistance of trained medical staff.
Due to several delays, Zinash stayed in the hospital for almost an entire day. Through surgery, Zinash gave birth to a healthy daughter – however the prolonged labour resulted in obstetric fistula injuries. These injuries were unfamiliar to Zinash, as it was her first time hearing of fistula.
Recognising Zinash had suffered a fistula injury, staff at the local hospital told her about the treatment available for her childbirth injury at Hamlin. The hospital staff felt confident in recommending Hamlin as they understood the specialised and holistic treatment available for fistula patients at Hamlin’s six regional fistula hospitals.
Zinash was advised to recover at home for three months before seeking treatment at Hamlin; she recalls these three months as an incredibly difficult time in her life. “I felt ashamed and shocked by the situation I faced. I didn’t believe that I would be cured – even after the hospital staff told me about Hamlin’s fistula hospitals. The three months I dealt with fistula were as long as three years. I became aggressive and grouchy, even with my children,” she says.
A cure once and for all
Following her time recovering from the birth of her daughter, Zinash arrived at Hamlin’s Yirgalem Fistula Hospital with her husband and newborn baby. Zinash received a cure for her fistula injuries after just two weeks at the hospital. “I never expected such an extraordinary care and love. This hospital means a lot to us, especially for poor rural women who have no one to help. We are blessed to have your hospital in the region,” says Zinash.
Providing a cure for every fistula patient
Zinash’s story shows the importance of being referred to a Hamlin fistula hospital after a woman is identified to have a fistula injury. Hamlin is working to educate more communities about fistula and the treatment available to Hamlin fistula hospitals through our Patient Identification Program. By identifying women suffering from fistula and referring them to Hamlin to receive care, we can prevent the extended suffering of women experiencing fistula.
Additionally, teaching people about the dangers of obstructed labour and recognising when to seek medical help plays a significant role in ensuring women do not develop fistula in the first place. The work the local hospital staff in recognising Zinash’s injuries and referring her to a Hamlin hospital ensured that she had timely access to treatment and support. For Zinash, her fistula injuries were cured entirely with one surgery that, in some instance, can take an hour to complete.
One fistula-repair surgery changed Zinash’s life forever. Help us offer support to more women suffering from fistula in Ethiopia by making a donation today.
Written by Anna Norden, intern at the Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation.