- Dr Catherine Hamlin
The physical and psychological consequences of obstetric fistula are both debilitating and heartbreaking. Yet, while fistula requires specialized treatment and care, most fistula injuries can be repaired with a simple two-hour operation. This life-changing surgery is one that can completely restore a woman’s life and dignity.
Hamlin is working harder than ever to locate and treat women in remote parts of Ethiopia who have suffered alone for years, perhaps decades, without knowing that help is available. Throughout the 2021 program year, hundreds of Hamlin-trained health workers went door-to-door, person-to-person, tirelessly searching for the estimated 30,000 women still physically and emotionally isolated by fistula.
These women were brought to Hamlin fistula hospitals for treatment and, over the 12 months of the 2021 program year, 1,567 surgeries were performed. As former Hamlin patient Etagegn said: “I didn’t believe that there would be a cure for me until I reached this hospital and saw the amazing care for many women like me.”
Hamlin’s Patient Identification Program was launched in 2020 aiming to treat the estimated 30,000 women in Ethiopia still suffering with a fistula injury. We are seeking out every remaining patient, many in isolated rural communities and many who have lived with fistula for many years, so that they too can return to a normal happy healthy life. A national SMS campaign was launched at the end of January 2021. As a result, we are seeing an increase in fistula surgeries for patients who have lived with this debilitating injury for many years.
After spending more than five years away from patient care and surgeries, caring for Catherine in her final years, Mamitu Gashe has come back to practice fistula repair surgery. This has been one of the most exciting moments for everyone at Hamlin this year and is a sign of the continuing legacy of Catherine and Reg. Learn more about Mamitu's inspiring story here.
Thank you for supporting Hamlin’s Treatment Program this year. To learn more about Hamlin's work in 2021, click here to read our Year in Review Newsletter.