As a global leader in the fight to eradicate obstetric fistula, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia is training fistula surgeons in best practice care, in partnership with the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO). Hamlin recently welcomed two surgeons from Afghanistan and Nepal, who undertook training at Hamlin’s Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital as part of the FIGO Fistula Surgery Training Initiative.
Training fistula surgeons from around the world
Dr Atia Sharif Nadi (below) has over 30 years’ experience working as an obstetrician-gynaecologist in hospitals and non-governmental organisations in Afghanistan. She provides fistula treatment at a specialist hospital in Kabul, where four of her colleagues are Hamlin-trained FIGO Fistula Fellows.
Dr Shuvechchha Dewa Shresrha (below) is a surgeon from Nepal. After completing her medical degree and practising as a general practitioner for a few years, Dr Shresrha specialised in obstetrics and gynaecology. For the past nine months, Dr Shresrha has worked in a Nepalese fistula hospital, identifying and treating women suffering from fistula.
Both Dr Shresrha and Dr Nadi have witnessed the terrible impact of fistula firsthand. As Dr Nadi explains, “Following the war in recent years in Afghanistan many women have been forced to deliver at home without professional assistance and since then we are witnessing lots of birth complications. Some of the fistula cases we face these days are more complicated and we need to adopt more advanced skills to manage. That’s why I came to Hamlin for FIGO training.”
Through the FIGO Fistula Surgery Training Initiative, Hamlin has trained fistula surgeons and specialist nurses from countries including Yemen, Uganda, Ghana and Pakistan. Participants generally stay at Hamlin for four to six weeks, observing the Hamlin Model of Care in action. By training fistula surgeons from countries with a prevalence of fistula cases, Hamlin is leading the global fight to eradicate fistula.
Learning how to provide holistic health care
As part of their training, Dr Shresrha and Dr Nadi visited the outpatient department and observed operations before they were able assist in fistula-repair surgeries with the Hamlin Clinical Team, including Dr Yeshineh Demerew, Medical Director at Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia.
Beyond learning best-practice fistula-repair surgical technique from the Hamlin Clinical Team, FIGO Fistula Fellows also learn the importance of a multifaceted, holistic approach to treating fistula. Upon completing their training, fistula surgeons return home and use the skills they learnt at Hamlin to help restore women’s lives in their respective countries.
“This is the best fistula hospital I have known or heard of, by far. The holistic care, the cleanliness, and the passionate and experienced medical staff makes it unique. I feel like I am in the perfect place to learn more and share experiences beyond just technical skills – I wish I could stay longer and learn more!” says Dr Shresrha.
A global outlook on eradicating fistula
The devastating impacts of fistula are not just limited to Ethiopia. Across the world, the prevalence of obstetric fistula is indicative of the inequities that women and girls in under-resourced countries face. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that globally, half a million women and girls are living with fistula, with new cases occurring every year.
Since the opening of Hamlin’s Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in 1974, surgeons have visited to learn about surgical techniques and holistic health care from Dr Catherine Hamlin and the Hamlin Clinical Team. This practice evolved over the years, as Hamlin surgeons – such as Mamitu Gashe – travelled abroad to provide training for fistula surgeons.
Since 2014, Hamlin has partnered with FIGO to train fistula surgeons from low-income and under-resourced countries, with an aim to increase the number of medical professionals providing best practice fistula treatment around the world.
According to Dr Nadi, “This hospital is really a centre of excellence where any organisation in the world intending on doing a similar job should learn from. I loved everything about this hospital and woul like to thank the entire medical team for their warm welcome and patience.”
To date, Hamlin has trained 29 surgeons and eight nurses through the FIGO Fistula Surgery Training Initiative – including Dr Shresrha and Dr Nadi.
Hamlin is proud to share the Hamlin Model of Care with medical professionals from around the world. Through training fistula surgeons, we can eradicate fistula. Forever. Click here to learn more about how you can help support this vital work in Ethiopia and beyond.