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2020: International Year of the Midwife

The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. Through this designation, the WHO is recognizing the work of the world’s 22 million nurses and two million midwives, including the life-saving work of midwives in Ethiopia. Prevention – through the work of Hamlin Midwives – is one of the three pillars of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia’s work. In FY19 alone, Hamlin midwives delivered 30,004 babies! 

Advocating for the needs of midwives 

Working alongside other organizations such as the International Confederation of Midwives and the United Nations Population Fund, the WHO seeks to use the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife to campaign for “increased investments in the nursing and midwifery workforce” in light of the significant challenges that nurses and midwives often face. 

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General and long-time supporter of Dr Catherine Hamlin and Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, reflected on the importance of the initiative, saying, “nurses and midwives are the backbone of every health system: in 2020 we’re calling on all countries to invest in nurses and midwives as part of their commitment to health for all.” 

The WHO initiative has even garnered royal support from the Queen’s daughter, Princess Anne, who is the patron of the Royal College of Midwives. In a letter to the College, Princess Anne wrote: “I wanted to take this opportunity on the eve of the International Year of the Midwife in 2020 to express my profound admiration for the incredible and important work that you do; the value of which cannot be underestimated.”        

Midwives: the key to eradicating fistula 

For Catherine, the essentiality of nurses and midwives in preventing obstetric fistula from occurring cannot be underscored; for this reason, Catherine established the Hamlin College of Midwives in 2007. Speaking on the value of training more midwives, Catherine said: “to be able to train dedicated young doctors and midwives is marvelous for me and my loyal staff, especially as they become enthusiastic about helping these poor women. It gives me confidence that the eradication of obstetric fistula can be achieved.” 

As 2020 continues to unfold, keep an eye out for more news from the Hamlin College of Midwives and the work of Hamlin Midwives in Hamlin-supported Midwifery Clinics. 


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All rights reserved 2023 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.