Obstetric fistula is a complex injury that requires very special care. The physical and psychological consequences of this childbirth injury are debilitating.

The hole between the birth canal and the bladder or rectum leaves survivors leaking urine or faeces – and sometimes both – through their vagina. But if that wasn’t horrific enough, these women also endure the loss of their baby, social isolation, stigma and loss of dignity.

Dr Catherine Hamlin, has pioneered the way in providing complete treatment to women in Ethiopia suffering obstetric fistulas. Surgical repair, rehabilitation and counselling all form the elements of Catherine’s leadership in best practice treatment.


The Hamlin Model of Care

The Hamlin Model of Care is grounded in a fundamental respect for the patient and a commitment to provide complete and compassionate care. Based on Dr Hamlin’s values, this remains a core part of the organisation today, instilled in the culture and ethos of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia through work practices and the staff, many of whom have worked there for decades and have been greatly influenced and mentored by Catherine over the years.

The result is unique patient-centred model of care, which combines clinical excellence with the restoration of the dignity of the patients.



Most fistula patients suffer not just physical scars, but emotional ones too. Rebuilding self-belief and harnessing inner strength is key to rehabilitation. Each patient is given a customised counselling plan during her stay.


Many patients have suffered nerve damage during labour and muscle contractures after months or years of immobility. Pre and post operative physio is provided to each patient.

Literacy and numeracy classes

During her stay at Hamlin, each patient has access to numeracy and literacy classes. Hamlin teachers are dedicated to Dr Hamlin’s model of holistic care.


Good nutrition is an essential part of healing and recovery. Our patients are given hearty, traditional Ethiopian food during their stay with us.


Our patient’s healing starts as soon as she arrives, when she is 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 Hamlin blanket

Every patient receives a colourful hand-knitted blanket when she arrives at a Hamlin hospital – a symbol of her life being woven back together.

Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation has one purpose and one purpose only: eradicating fistula. Forever.