Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) affects millions of women globally and is usually caused by childbirth. While some women may be more susceptible to prolapse, the risks also increase with each birth, as the pelvic floor muscles are stretched and sometimes torn.
A common condition
For women in Australia, POP is usually easily diagnosed and treated early, resulting in good health outcomes. In Ethiopia, however, where women in rural areas have little access to healthcare, POP can worsen if left untreated resulting in Advanced Stage POP.
Studies find the prevalence of POP particularly high in Ethiopian women at 24% or almost 1 in 4 women.
Women with this condition suffer significant discomfort, pain, and disruption in daily life and require surgical treatment. Our staff has found that women presenting at Hamlin hospitals with advanced stage POP suffer a range of complications, including infections and ulceration. Over the long-term, kidney obstruction and an inability to pass urine can result in damage to the kidneys if a prolapse is left untreated.
Treatment through surgery
All six Hamlin fistula hospitals have a specialist surgeon with urogynaecology skills to undertake surgical repair of advanced-stage POP.
In FY23, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia’s clinical team performed over 2,200 POP surgeries, dramatically improving the health and quality of life for women. This treatment is provided free of charge, thanks to our generous supporters, and gives women back their lives.
Kiya, a former POP patient, says: “You change my life from living shamefully. You give us such extraordinary care and affection for free. Thank you for saving my life.”