Dr Catherine Hamlin was determined not only to treat fistula but to prevent these childbirth injuries in the first place; that’s why she opened the Hamlin College of Midwives in 2007. The graduation of the first batch of Hamlin Midwives in 2011 was a proud moment for Catherine and the entire Hamlin Team; since then, eight more cohorts have graduated from the College.
The key to preventing fistula
Catherine believed that every woman deserved a safe delivery and access to quality medical care. The College is the cornerstone of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia‘s Fistula Prevention program. The aim of the College is to ensure that women in rural Ethiopia have access to qualified midwives so that they no longer suffer for days on end with an obstructed labour.
All students receive a scholarship to undertake a four-year Bachelor of Sciences (Midwifery) degree. The College is a centre of excellence for the training of midwives. The curriculum meets the stringent standards of the International Confederation of Midwives, including the precondition that students conduct at least 40 deliveries before they graduate. To date, 170 midwives have graduated from the Hamlin College of Midwives. After graduating, students are deployed back to their villages where their skills are desperately needed.
The brightest students committed to their communities
Since its inception in 2007, the Hamlin College of Midwives has maintained an active program of recruiting the brightest students from rural areas. For Catherine, the aim of selecting rural students was “to have midwives that will go back to their own villages, and look after all pregnant women in their area, referring those in danger of obstructed labour to our centres or the nearest hospital before labour starts.”
Today, Hamlin Midwives staff 80 Hamlin-supported Midwifery Clinics in rural Ethiopia. The benefits of graduates from the College returning to their communities to work in clinics are immense. As Hamlin midwives learn through a combination of theory and practice, they are able to apply their skills in remote locations. They are able to foster trust between the midwifery clinic and their community, which lets Hamlin Midwives educate their communities through networking systems amongst women. This trust leads to more pregnant women accessing prenatal and perinatal services.
Hamlin Midwives prevent hundreds of maternal and neonatal deaths each year, and save thousands from suffering devastating childbirth injuries. They are a foundational building block in the effort to eradicate obstetric fistula forever.
Catherine was not able to realise her dream of a fistula-free Ethiopia in her lifetime but we can in ours. You can help finish what she started. Click here to learn how you can help.