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International Day to End Obstetric Fistula 2022

Monday 23rd May 2022 marks the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, the devastating injury caused during an obstructed labor, affecting tens of thousands of women in Ethiopia, who struggle to access maternal health care. 

On the International Day to Eradicate Obstetric Fistula, and every day, the Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation remains determined to build a fistula-free world for every woman.

  • A world where women are free of incontinence caused by fistula injuries, and the isolation that brings.
  • A world where women can be confident of a safe delivery of their babies, and an end to agonizing obstructed labour.
  • A world where women can access maternal health care, no matter how remotely they live.
  • A world where health and dignity is restored

What being fistula-free means to Dr Zahra Sualih’s patients

5 Facts about Obstetric Fistula

Fact 1

Over 70% of women in Ethiopia give birth at home without medical care which increases the chances of developing an obstetric fistula, a devastating child-birth injury caused by a prolonged obstructed birth. This can leave women incontinent, isolated from their communities and even paralyzed. Tragically, 93% of women who suffer an obstetric fistula will give birth to a stillborn baby.

Fact 2

So far, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia have performed life changing surgery to over 60,000 women and are aiming to transform 100,000 lives.

Fact 3

Hundreds of Hamlin Patient Identification Officers are searching for the estimated 31,000 women in Ethiopia still physically and emotionally isolated by fistula injuries. Many will have suffered for years not knowing that a simple two-hour operation could provide a cure. Every year, 3,000 women in Ethiopia suffer new fistula injuries, due to a lack of access to quality health care.

Fact 4

22,344 babies were delivered by Hamlin Midwives ensuring the safety of mothers and children living in remote areas, during the 2021 financial year. 32,938 pregnant women seen for their first antenatal check.

Fact 5

1,052 women enrolled in training and education courses at Desta Mender and Hamlin regional hospitals, during the 2021 financial year.

Treating fistula is more just treating the physical injury. It’s about treating the whole woman with love and care. That’s why Dr Catherine Hamlin developed a Rehabilitation and Reintegration Program at Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia to further support women recovering from fistula injuries. The program empowers women to live a life with independence and dignity.

Hamlin is the global leader in the fight to eradicate this debilitating, entirely preventable, childbirth injury. Established by Australian obstetrician-gynaecologists Drs Catherine and Reg Hamlin, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia is a multifaceted network comprising six regional fistula hospitals; Desta Mender, Hamlin’s Rehabilitation and Reintegration Centre; the Hamlin College of Midwives; over 50 Hamlin-supported midwifery clinics; and a team of 550 Ethiopian staff all determined to end fistula.

Women’s health and dignity restored

Obstetric fistula is not just a maternal health issue, but also a human rights issue. Because, everyone deserves a life of dignity. 

By treating fistula through a holistic, whole-patient approach, we can not only treat the childbirth injury, but can also address other inequities that these women disproportionately experience, including isolation, poverty, and illiteracy. This approach empowers healed women to live a life of dignity, agency, and good health.

International Day to End Obstetric Fistula 2022: How you can help

Donate: Your donation is powerful. Give to Hamlin to empower women and help build a fistula-free future. Click here to donate today.

Fundraise: Get your friends and family together and help make a difference to women in Ethiopia. You can get active, get crafty or get social for a good cause. Learn more about how you can get Hands on For Hamlin here.

Spread the word: Share this blog on social media to spread the Hamlin story and encourage others to learn more. Keep up to date with the latest news in the fight to eradicate fistula by following Hamlin on social media.

Will you join our movement on International Day to End Obstetric Fistula 2022? Help empower women and eradicate fistula. Forever. Click here to donate.

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All rights reserved 2020 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 and images have been changed to protect the identities of those we help.