A Charity of Childbirth: Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia
Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia is a charitable organization in Ethiopia dedicated to treating and preventing a specific childbirth injury known as obstetric fistula.
An obstetric fistula is a hole between “the vagina and rectum or bladder that is caused by prolonged obstructed labor, leaving a woman unable to control her urine or feces.”
According to Hamlin Fistula, “more than 75 percent of women with obstetric fistula have endured labor that lasted three days or more.”
The organization has built the world’s first fistula hospital and also has five regional centers in Ethiopia, providing healthcare to rural women.
Having the Hamlin Fistula Clinic in Ethiopia is vital because it is one the fastest growing economies in Africa. Unfortunately, the country has less than 7,000 trained midwives making the ratio of midwives to women having children very low.
According to the organization, “the childbearing population ratio is approximately 1:14,000, well below the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 1:5,000.”
This lack of services and health professionals has a direct impact on Ethiopian women. Approximately 9,000 women die in obstructed labor each year. Another 9,000 survive but with an obstetric fistula.
Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia provides a world class center of excellence for treating obstetric fistulas and training doctors to specialize in this surgery. Also, “the hospital also has the Hamlin College of Midwives and the Desta Mender – a farm and training center for long term patients.”
In addition, Hamlin Fistula offers rehabilitation services such as physical therapy, psychotherapy and job training. This helps patients rebuild their self-esteem, find meaningful employment and reintegrate into their village life.
“Over 700 Ethiopians are employed across Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia and only two of the staff are from overseas. Dr. Catherine Hamlin and Mr. Martin Andrews, the CEO.” It is with the generosity of donors that the Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia continues its work in treating and preventing obstetric fistulas.
“Mourning the stillbirth of their only child, incontinent of urine, ashamed of their offensiveness, often spurned by their husband, homeless, unemployable, except in the field, women with obstetric fistula endured, existed, without friends and without hope.”
However, thanks to Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, Ethiopian women have the hope of receiving good, quality healthcare during childbirth. These women will be able to integrate themselves back into their families, communities and society at large, after delivery of their children.
– Vanessa Awanyo
Sources: World Health Organization, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, Fistula Foundation