In addition to treatment, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia is responsible for realizing Catherine Hamlin’s original intention for travelling to Ethiopia: the training of midwives to assist in the countryside and prevent these terrible fistula injuries. They are essential to both the prevention of obstetric fistula and improving maternal health. With a population over 109 million there are less than 12,500 trained midwives in Ethiopia.
Lasting change for women and girls requires addressing a critical root cause of obstetric fistula: a lack of skilled birth attendants. That’s why the Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation created the Hamlin College of Midwives in Ethiopia.
We introduce programs to increase access to quality healthcare locally. Through these measures, we aim to break the cycle of unrelieved obstructed labor and women and girls from sustaining obstetric fistulas in the first place.
The Hamlin College of Midwives in Ethiopia recruits women from rural communities in Ethiopia to learn the Hamlin Model of Care during a four-year Bachelor of Science in Midwifery program. Since 2007, more than 170 students have graduated from the program. The full curriculum is certified under the International Confederation of Midwives, and it includes the precondition that students conduct at least 40 deliveries before they graduate.
Upon graduation, Hamlin midwives return to their villages as health leaders in their communities – today staffing 80 rural midwifery clinics in remote areas where their skills were desperately needed. Last year, they delivered more than 30,000 babies and not a single fistula occurred during childbirth.
The Hamlin College of Midwives in Ethiopia is building the local midwifery workforce year by year, working towards the goal of providing a midwife for every pregnant woman in Ethiopia.
The Hamlin College of Midwives in Ethiopia commenced training its first intake of students in November 2007. Girls with an interest in maternal health and who have completed preparatory class are selected from rural schools in the areas where birth attendants are most desperately needed. Students have been recruited across Ethiopia including Bahir Dar (Amharra area), Mekele (Tigray area), Yirgalem (Southern Nations area), Oromia and the Sidamo region in the south.
Students are trained in a rigorous and comprehensive Bachelor of Science four-year degree with some managing more than 100 deliveries during training. On graduation, the midwives are deployed back to the rural provinces they came from, where they are familiar with the people and the language. This increases the likelihood that they will stay, providing long-term midwifery services to a population with so few health services. They are placed with another midwife in an antenatal clinic with the support of an obstetrician-gynaecologist and ambulance service from our own rural fistula hospitals. Their impact is nowhere more evident that in the village of Birakat, where only 36 women gave birth at the government health centre. That number has now increased to 200 since they began their work in the village.
The unique and intensive training I received at the College, incorporated with clinical placements, made me a highly respected professional among my own community, whom I have been serving for the past four years… I would encourage those young girls studying midwifery at the College to study hard; let’s realize Dr. Catherine’s dream of ‘a midwife for every woman’.Hindiya