Preventing Obstetric Fistula and other Childbirth Injuries in Ethiopia

The Hamlin College of Midwives

Dr Catherine Hamlin has worked for almost 60 years to eradicate obstetric fistula in Ethiopia. Catherine founded Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital and five other regional fistula hospitals across Ethiopia and in 2007 she established the Hamlin College of Midwives.

In the ten years since first opening its doors, the Hamlin College of Midwives has become a centre of excellence for training of midwives. The first qualified midwives were deployed in 2010, paving the way for the expansion of midwifery services into many more remote areas of Ethiopia.

The Hamlin College of Midwives provides scholarships to local Ethiopian students to complete a robust degree in midwifery. Students are recruited from remote rural localities so they know the local language and cultural context. When they complete their four-year degree, they are deployed back to their local community where they commit to another four years to work as a Hamlin Midwife.

Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia works with rural partner health centers across the country to ensure the midwives have safe, clinically ready facilities to deliver quality maternal health care.

Today we have a network of 36 Hamlin supported midwifery clinics across Ethiopia that are staffed by qualified Hamlin midwives. These clinics are strategically located in rural areas without existing maternity services. Our midwifery graduates are deployed in teams and are provided with accommodation in the communities.

Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia continues to support the midwives in all 36 rural health centres providing mentorship, accommodation, ambulance service and essential drugs and supplies. Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia also undertakes the purchase and distribution of medical equipment and supplies as well as the refurbishment and maintenance of the clinics and midwife housing.

Hamlin continues to identify additional partner health centres in remote areas for deployment of graduate midwives. Four additional clinics are scheduled to open by the end of the year.


Since 2007 a total of 125 qualified midwives have graduated, each with more than 100 babies delivered in clinical training. Currently 92 more students are enrolled.

In 2017 Hamlin midwives in 36 Hamlin clinics attended more than 22,000 births, provided antenatal care for more than 18,000 women and undertook more than 19,000 postnatal care visits. The downstream effects of a Hamlin midwife are remarkable – when a Hamlin midwife arrives, new cases of fistula drop to almost zero in nearby villages.

Currently 85% of births in Ethiopia still take place without a skilled birth attendant present. The midwives are a cornerstone of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia’s mission to eradicate fistula from Ethiopia. Forever.

Author: Carolyn Hardy – Chief Executive Officer, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia (Australia)

To learn more about Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia’s prevention program click here. 

To help Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia continue to recruit and train more midwives and eradicate fistula forever, please consider donating today.

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