What is the Hamlin Model of Care?

“We don’t just treat the hole in the bladder, we treat the whole patient with love and tender care, literacy and numeracy classes, a brand-new dress and money to travel home.” – Dr Catherine Hamlin

The Hamlin Model of Care is the world’s leading approach to treating obstetric fistula injuries. It considers both the physical impact and psychological trauma of fistula. Today, the Hamlin Model of Care has been widely replicated around the world.

Surgical repair

An obstetric fistula injury can often be repaired with a single, life-changing surgery. The Hamlin team has performed more than 60,000 surgeries, helping more than 60,000 women regain their dignity and health. No other facility in the world has performed as many surgeries, and each operation is free of charge for the patient, thanks to our generous donors.

Hamlin has six fistula hospitals across Ethiopia, each of which uses the Hamlin Model of Care. The main hospital in Addis Ababa is a centre of excellence where surgeons from around the world come to learn best-practice fistula treatment from the Hamlin Clinical Team.


Some women with complex cases may need multiple surgeries and ongoing care. Surgery is just the beginning of the long road to recovery from this horrific childbirth injury. Alongside personalised nutrition plans which help to nourish patients, many of whom are severely underweight, the team at Hamlin provide intense physiotherapy programs to help women regain their physical strength pre- and post-surgery.


An obstetric fistula injury is accompanied by severe psychosocial trauma. Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia provides women with the empathetic support they need to regain their sense of self – sometimes after years of living in shame and social isolation. Rebuilding confidence is key to a woman’s recovery. That’s why a customised counselling program is developed for each woman at every Hamlin fistula hospital under the Hamlin Model of Care.


After living with the trauma and isolation of obstetric fistula, many recovered patients cannot easily return to their communities and few have an income that allows them to live independently.

Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia provides women with education and skills classes, as well as vocational training. The Hamlin team supports women to find sustainable employment upon reintegration back into their communities. In some cases, this also includes the facilitation of start-up grants to establish their own business, enabling these women to generate an income. With your support, the Hamlin Model of Care rebuilds self-belief and empowers women to live independently, with dignity and choices.

Towards 100,000 surgeries under the Hamlin Model of Care

Under Dr Catherine Hamlin‘s pioneering guidance, over 60,000 Ethiopian women with fistula injuries have had their lives transformed under the Hamlin Model of Care. We are very proud of our achievements to date, but our task is nowhere near complete. It is estimated up to 31,000 Ethiopian women still live with an untreated fistula injury and 3,000 new cases occur every year.

The Hamlin Model of Care remains at the centre of our achievements over the past year. The team at Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia continue to carry Catherine’s torch and vision; with your support, they aim to complete 100,000 fistula surgeries and eradicate fistula from Ethiopia once and for all.

Click here to join us as we continue Catherine’s journey to eradicate fistula. Forever. You could provide one woman with vocational training for $960, or you could give a patient an extended physical rehabilitation program for $300.

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