Our founders, Drs Catherine and Reg Hamlin, arrived in Ethiopia in 1959. On the evening of their arrival in Ethiopia, a fellow gynecologist told them: "The fistula patients will break your hearts."
The Hamlins had never seen an obstetric fistula case before and there was little or no treatment available in Ethiopia. Women were suffering from childbirth complications on a scale unimaginable in an American hospital. Patients with obstetric fistulas seeking medical help were turned away, as they had no cure for this condition. Confronted by this tragedy, Catherine and Reg studied medical literature from the 1850s to develop their own obstetric fistula surgical technique.
Together, they blazed a trail for a treatment combining obstetric fistula surgery, counseling and rehabilitation – now recognized around the world as the Hamlin Model of Care. This included establishing Ethiopia's first fistula hospital, in the nation's capital of Addis Ababa.
Today, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia is a healthcare network of more than 550 Ethiopian staff – many trained by Catherine herself - working in six fistula hospitals across Ethiopia. Each hospital has well-established theatre facilities, state-of-the-art medical equipment, and world-class clinicians supported by the Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation.
Hamlin Fistula Foundation is the reference organization for the prevention and effective, holistic treatment of obstetric fistula. Our vision is simple: To eradicate obstetric fistula. Forever. We empower women to reassert their humanity, secure their health and well-being, and regain their roles in their families and communities.
Through Project Zero we’ve made it our mission to bring obstetric fistula cases down to zero, by focusing on identification, prevention, and education.
The Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation is an independent charity established to raise funds for Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, to eradicate obstetric fistula using the Hamlin Model of Care. The Foundation provides 50% of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia's annual operating budget. Dr Catherine Hamlin was our Founder and Patron.
“When I die, this place will go on for many, many years until we have eradicated fistula altogether – until every woman in Ethiopia is assured of a safe delivery and a live baby.”Dr. Catherine Hamlin