Mamitu Gashe: One of the world’s preeminent fistula surgeons
In 1989, along with Drs Reg and Catherine Hamlin, Mamitu Gashe won the Gold Medal for surgery from the Royal College of Surgeons in London. In an interview with the BBC World Service, Mamitu recalled that “the recognition started after we were visited by a team from the UK’s Royal College… [the Hamlins] asked the visitors to attend one of my surgeries. I was leading a very complicated surgery, during which, Dr Reg Hamlin was assisting me – and it was after that, the recognition started coming.”
“The problem [of fistula] is very widespread in the country,” says Mamitu. “There are many people living in rural areas with no access to medical facilities and with little infrastructure to roads, so when these people go into labour, they don’t get access to proper treatment and proper care.”
A prolific surgeon, Mamitu has dedicated her life to treating fistula patients and repairing fistula injuries. Today, Mamitu continues in surgery at Hamlin’s Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital and brings joy and healing to everyone she meets. Mamitu has been thriving, back in theatre. When she is not operating on fistula patients, Mamitu has been spending her time in the wards with patients.
Training a generation of fistula surgeons
In 2000, Mamitu began travelling to spread the Hamlin Model of Care in obstetric fistula treatment across the world. Over the next few years she visited Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, India and the Mercy Ship ‘Anastasis’ to train surgeons in fistula surgery. Mamitu’s incredible work in training surgeons across the world and helping thousands of women was recognised by the BBC when they included her in the BBC’s 100 Women list of 2018.
“Mamitu is so valuable. She’s one of the world’s top fistula surgeons. Just think: almost every fistula surgeon in the world today has been trained by Mamitu Gashe, or by someone who’s been trained by Mamitu,” says Dr Yeshineh, the Medical Director at Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia.
Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia continues to be a global centre of excellence in treating and preventing fistula: identifying women who have been suffering with fistula and bringing them to the closest Hamlin fistula hospital for treatment, training fistula surgeons from across the world, and educating Hamlin Midwives whose work prevents fistulas from occurring.
Learn more about Mamitu Gashe’s incredible work in the critically-acclaimed Sue Williams book ‘Healing Lives’ – click here to get your copy from the Hamlin Shop. Learn about Mamitu’s incredible colleagues in our blog series Meet our Clinical Team.