Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia has a long history of training surgeons from around the world in best-practice fistula surgery techniques. Since the inception of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, surgeons visited Dr Catherine Hamlin to learn, and Hamlin surgeons travelled abroad to other medical facilities to provide training. Since 2014, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia has provided this training in partnership with the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) as part of the FIGO Fistula Training Initiative to increase the number of trained fistula surgeons around the world.
Globally, the FIGO Fistula Training Initiative has trained 65 surgeons and repaired 12,000 fistula injuries since the program began. 28 of these surgeons and six nurses from around the world have visited and trained at Hamlin’s Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital to learn Hamlin’s best-practice technique for fistula surgery. Beyond surgical technique, the FIGO participants learn about how to treat patients using the Hamlin Model of Care. These surgeons are now using their skills to help women in Madagascar, Ghana, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The latest update on obstetric fistula repairs from FIGO reflects on the tremendous progress made by the FIGO Fistula Surgery Training Initiative. Surgeons trained under the FIGO program – known as FIGO Fellows – have achieved 12,000 fistula repairs to date. This number includes the work of the 28 surgeons who trained at Hamlin as part of FIGO’s program.
Working to end fistula across the world
The FIGO program has been in place since 2012. In 2020 alone, 1,000 fistula repair surgeries were undertaken by surgeons who trained at FIGO centres of excellence, such as Hamlin’s Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital. In a year of severe disruption and challenges for many obstetricians and gynaecologists in developing nations as a result of the global pandemic, this accomplishment is notable.
Globally, the WHO estimates that two million women suffer with fistula injuries. Moreover, it is believed that 100,000 women develop a new fistula injury every year. The number of women suffering from fistula is concentrated in 55 low resourced or developing countries, across sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin American and the Caribbean. This is largely attributed to a lack of access to obstetric care including a shortage of midwives, obstetricians, gynaecologists and maternal healthcare resources.
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