You will probably never treat a patient like this. But you can help a patient like this be treated.
Patients arriving at Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia’s world-famous Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital are usually severely underweight and physically weak. Many have paraplegia or paraparesis, muscle contractures and muscle atrophy. Hip and knee contractures are common as is foot drop.
Their injuries come from living with an obstetric fistula, one of the worst things that can happen to a woman. Fistula is an internal injury caused by an obstructed labour during childbirth. A hole is formed between the birth canal and the bladder or rectum causing survivors to leak urine or faeces – or sometimes both. In a desperate effort to stop the constant leaking, many women will lie on their side, unmoving for months or years, barely eating or drinking.
The Hamlin Model of Care
Pioneering Australian surgeon Dr Catherine Hamlin arrived in Ethiopia 60 years ago and established Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia. The Clinical team at Hamlin is dedicated to repairing the injuries of fistula sufferers. In the last 60 years, more than 60,000 women have been treated. The Hamlin Model of Care is a holistic approach that provides nutrition, counselling, surgical repair, physiotherapy and community reintegration.
Intense physiotherapy prior to surgery is mandatory for patients to ensure they are fit enough for the Hamlin Surgical team to operate to repair their fistula injuries. Some patients also have secondary physical conditions which the Hamlin physiotherapy team treat post-surgery. All the systems are in place for Hamlin to keep delivering the services, but for our team to be able to fulfil their job, they need your help.
How you can help…
We are currently undertaking a project to purchase new machinery and equipment for the physiotherapy departments in the six Hamlin hospitals across Ethiopia. In some cases, it is to replace equipment in the main hospital that is up to 10 years old, while other items will be bought for the first time, such as fixed bicycles for the five regional hospitals.
The total cost of this project is $80,000. With 28,855 Physiotherapists in Australia, if just 800 of those gave $100, we could fully fund this project!
There is nothing more satisfying than seeing these women walk again.
– Sister Selam Aregawi, Head of Physiotherapy, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia