Restoring Health and Dignity
Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia exists to ensure the health and dignity of women who have survived a horrendous, and preventable, childbirth injury: obstetric fistula.
In most cases a fistula can be repaired with a single life-changing surgery that, for some, can take as little as two hours. Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia is globally renowned for its fistula treatment technique.
Developed by Dr Catherine Hamlin, this pioneering surgical technique has been recognised as a best practice in global health by leading organisations like the Australian Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Global Health Council, the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and the Society of Gynecologic Surgeons.
Surgeons from around the globe visit and train at Hamlin’s hospitals to learn this acclaimed, world-best treatment. Click here to meet some members of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia’s Clinical Team.
“The life changing surgery restores their health and their dignity.”
– Oprah Winfrey
Hamlin’s Regional Fistula Hospitals
The Hamlin healthcare network, begun more than four decades ago, has now expanded to cover the breadth of the country, with 5 regional hospitals in addition to the original Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital. In addition Hamlin operates a Rehabilitation and Reintegration Centre, and supports over 90 regional midwifery clinics, staffed by more than 500 healthcare and clinical professionals.
“Working with her [Catherine Hamlin] was a blessing. She made me look beyond surgical techniques and created an outstanding model on how to provide holistic and patient-centred care for these poor women.”
– Dr Yeshineh Demerew, Medical Director at Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia
The Hamlin Model of Care
The world’s leading approach to treating obstetric fistula
The impact of obstetric fistula goes much deeper than physical injuries. It often also carries the grief of losing a child and the trauma of isolation and shame.
Dr Catherine Hamlin developed the Hamlin Model of Care over 60 years ago. This model remains core to the organisation today and is now the world’s leading approach to treating fistula as it considers the whole person with respect and compassion – treating the physical, psychological and emotional effects of fistula. It has been widely replicated around the world.
“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
What makes up the Hamlin Model of Care?
Many women living with fistula in Ethiopia don’t know help is available. Hamlin’s ambitious Patient Identification Outreach Program is focused on finding these women through media campaigns and going door-to-door, educating the community and linking them to life-changing treatment at one of six Hamlin hospitals.
Clothing and a Hamlin blanket
A woman’s healing starts as soon as she arrives at a Hamlin hospital. She receives a colourful hand- knitted blanket, symbolising her life being woven back together. She is also given a nightgown and slippers to wear during her stay. On the day she leaves, she is presented with a new dress to celebrate her return home.
A single, two-hour operation can often repair an obstetric fistula injury and change a woman’s life. But many women who have suffered for years require more complex surgery and rehabilitation due to complications like scar tissue, long-term infection and renal damage. The Hamlin surgical technique and the Clinical Team’s approach is considered best-practice fistula treatment globally.
An arduous labour can cause nerve damage, while long periods of immobility can result in muscle contractures – conditions most women with fistula injuries experience. All Hamlin patients receive a tailored physiotherapy program before and after fistula repair surgery to make sure they regain full function in their muscles.
The emotional trauma of fistula can often be more scarring than the physical injury. Healing the psychological scars and building confidence is a key part of rehabilitation. Women receive compassionate support to help them regain their sense of self, often after living in shame and isolation for years.
Good nutrition is an essential part of healing. Many women with fistula are malnourished as they spend their lives hidden and in isolation. Patients at Hamlin hospitals receive healthy, nutritious meals during their stay to build up their strength and encourage faster recovery.
The Hamlin Model of Care places great emphasis on empowering women to take control of their lives. During their stay at a Hamlin hospital, women can develop their numeracy and literacy skills and receive vocational and life skills training, empowering them to return to their community with confidence and the ability to earn an income.
Many women lose everything due to the devastating impact of their fistula injuries. They’re also often ostracised from their communities. Hamlin supports women with reintegration into their communities and independent living by helping them find sustainable employment or start their own businesses. This support is critical to equipping women to live with dignity.
Womens’s empowerment program
Hamlin’s Women’s Empowerment Program gives fistula patients in need of income support vital vocational skills at Desta Mender. This groundbreaking initiative trains 245 women every year, offering a range of opportunities, including leadership and communications training, as well as small-business guidance. These life-changing skills give women choices and independence – empowering their communities and those around them.
Give a Gift from the Heart
When you buy a tax-deductible Hamlin eCard, you are supporting one element of the Hamlin Model of Care and helping to restore a woman’s life! Choose your gift to send to someone special, then choose the day and time you’d like to send it. Each gift represents one way your generosity can change the life of a woman suffering with fistula.