We exist to ensure the health and dignity of women who have survived a horrendous, and preventable, childbirth injury – obstetric fistula.

Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia takes a total care approach. One that seeks to repair, mend and heal all the scars – emotional and physical that come with this heartbreaking injury.

Dr Catherine Hamlin’s dream is to eradicate obstetric fistula forever, so that every woman can be free from this debilitating and isolating condition.

 

Treatment

Obstetric fistula can mostly be repaired with a single life-changing surgery that can take no more than an hour.

Upon arrival at a Hamlin hospital, patients are embraced with tender and loving care. They are given nutritious food, a handmade blanket and the empathy of staff – several of who are cured fistula patients themselves. For many patients, this would have been one of the first instances of emotional and physical support since their injury. In some cases women have lived with the condition, untreated for more than 40 years.

Patients receive a customised program that includes nutrition, physiotherapy, counselling and rehabilitation. It is not just about repairing the injury, but restoring dignity.

Click here to read the stories of some of our brave, beautiful patients.

With a success rate of around 95 percent, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia is globally renowned for its treatment technique. So far, 28 surgeons from around the globe have visited and trained at the hospital to learn this acclaimed, world-best treatment.

Dr Hamlin’s pioneering surgical techniques have been recognised globally, including through the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Global Health Council for best practices in Global Health, the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, the Distinguished Surgeon Award from the Society of Gynecologic Surgeons and the Australian Medical Association.

 

The life changing surgery restores their health and their dignity.

– Oprah Winfrey

 

Our Hospitals

Initially working from the Princess Tsehai Memorial Hospital in Addis Ababa, Drs Catherine and Reg Hamlin refined the surgical technique to repair obstetric fistula injuries, while continuing to treat a broad range of obstetric cases. Within the first three years, Reg and Catherine had operated on 300 fistula patients. As news of a cure spread, many more patients came seeking treatment.

To cater for the demand Catherine and Reg began fundraising and opened the now world renowned Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in 1974.

Today, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia is fully staffed by over 550 Ethiopians who continue Catherine’s dream of transforming women’s care throughout Ethiopia.

In addition to Hamlin’s Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, five regional hospitals have been established due to significant demand for fistula surgery. All six hospitals also provide a safe birthing facility where former patients can return for a clean, safe caesarean section delivery, free of charge.

Click here to read about Hamlin hospital news.

After successfully treating almost 55,000 women suffering obstetric fistulas in Ethiopia over the past 60 years, this skill, compassion and experience will now help suffers in Uganda. Together with our partner Terrewode, the Hamlin team will develop a new specialist obstetric fistula treatment facility in Soroti, Uganda – ‘The Terrowode Women’s Community Hospital’. In Uganda an estimated 200,000 women suffer with an obstetric fistula. Tragically, everyday there are five new cases. It is an appalling situation that we cannot ignore. Click here for more information. 

 

Rehabilitation

It is the emotional scars of shame and isolation that are often the hardest to treat with survivors of obstetric fistula. These women have almost always been shunned by their husbands and families and discarded to live in isolation because of this putrid condition.

Catherine knew that any physical treatment had to come hand in hand with mending emotional scars. Restoring the dignity of women who have suffered from the humiliation of a fistula injury is paramount to rehabilitation.

Women are provided with physiotherapy, counselling, embraced in a warm blanket and given a new dress once they depart back to their homes. Patients are also provided with literacy and numeracy classes.

And beyond the emotional and physical mending of scars and injury, patients are also supported with income-generating training and placements.

To date, close to 55,000 women have been treated to repair the internal damage from obstetric fistula and had their dignity restored.

They are too poor to pay. Their treatment is free thanks to a movement of generous donors, like you, who believe no woman should suffer this cruel and debilitating condition.

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