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What is the Hamlin Model of Care?

"We don't just treat the hole in the bladder, we treat the whole patient with love and tender care, literacy and numeracy classes, a brand-new dress and money to travel home." - Dr Catherine Hamlin

The Hamlin Model of Care is the world's leading approach to treating obstetric fistula injuries. It considers both the physical impact and psychological trauma of fistula. Today, the Hamlin Model of Care has been widely replicated around the world.

Surgical repair

An obstetric fistula injury can often be repaired with a single, life-changing surgery. The Hamlin team has performed more than 60,000 surgeries, helping more than 60,000 women regain their dignity and health. No other facility in the world has performed as many surgeries, and each operation is free of charge for the patient, thanks to our generous donors.

Hamlin has six fistula hospitals across Ethiopia, each of which uses the Hamlin Model of Care. The main hospital in Addis Ababa is a center of excellence where surgeons from around the world come to learn best-practice fistula treatment from the Hamlin Clinical Team.

HMC US blog | Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation (USA) | Working to eradicate obstetric fistula. Forever.


Some women with complex cases may need multiple surgeries and ongoing care. Surgery is just the beginning of the long road to recovery from this horrific childbirth injury. Alongside personalized nutrition plans which help to nourish patients, many of whom are severely underweight, the team at Hamlin provide intense physiotherapy programs to help women regain their physical strength pre- and post-surgery.

HMC US blog4 | Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation (USA) | Working to eradicate obstetric fistula. Forever.


An obstetric fistula injury is accompanied by severe psychosocial trauma. Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia provides women with the empathetic support they need to regain their sense of self - sometimes after years of living in shame and social isolation. Rebuilding confidence is key to a woman's recovery. That's why a customized counseling program is developed for each woman at every Hamlin fistula hospital under the Hamlin Model of Care.

HMC US blog3 | Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation (USA) | Working to eradicate obstetric fistula. Forever.


After living with the trauma and isolation of obstetric fistula, many recovered patients cannot easily return to their communities and few have an income that allows them to live independently.

Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia provides women with education and skills classes, as well as vocational training. The Hamlin team supports women to find sustainable employment upon reintegration back into their communities. In some cases, this also includes the facilitation of start-up grants to establish their own business, enabling these women to generate an income. With your support, the Hamlin Model of Care rebuilds self-belief and empowers women to live independently, with dignity and choices.

Hamlin Model of Care

Towards 100,000 surgeries under the Hamlin Model of Care

Over 60,000 Ethiopian women with fistula injuries have had their lives transformed under the Hamlin Model of Care. We are very proud of our achievements to date, but our task is nowhere near complete. It is estimated up to 31,000 Ethiopian women still live with an untreated fistula injury and 1,000 new cases occur every year.

The Hamlin Model of Care remains at the center of our achievements over the past year. With your support, the team at Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia aim to complete 100,000 fistula surgeries and eradicate fistula from Ethiopia once and for all.

HMC US blog6 | Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation (USA) | Working to eradicate obstetric fistula. Forever.

Click here to join us as we continue to eradicate fistula. Forever. Your $900 donation could fund one standard fistula operation including pre- and post-operative care and rehabilitation, restoring a woman's life.


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All rights reserved 2022 Catherine Hamlin Foundation (R) (ABN58159647499)
Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation is fiscally sponsored by KBFUS (EIN582277856) and KBF Canada (RCO769784893RR0001)

Photography credits to Cameron Bloom, Nigel Brennan, Mary F. Calvert, Kate Geraghty, Amber Hooper, Joni Kabana, Johannes Remling and Martha Tadesse.

Patient names have been changed to protect the identities of those we help.