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Project Zero

The road map for a Fistula-Free Ethiopia.

Project Zero is our most ambitious program in decades. Going from door-to-door, Woreda-by-Woreda, our goal is to find and treat every woman in Ethiopia living with obstetric fistula and do all in our power to prevent child birth injuries in the future.

More than 31,000 women in Ethiopia are living with obstetric fistula, with an additional 1,000 cases occurring every year. It is estimated that it could take more than five decades to find and treat every case.

Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia is determined to accelerate the rate of change for the women of Ethiopia.

In a country of 130 million people, most of whom live in rural areas, finding and treating women living with obstetric fistula has always been a significant challenge. Project Zero is an ambitious yet achievable program that adopts a systematic approach to treatment and prevention.

Using a woreda-by-woreda (district) approach, Hamlin-trained teams are visiting each and every household in a woreda, to find women living with an historic obstetric fistula injury, and organize care and treatment at one of Hamlin’s Fistula Hospitals.

At the same time, we are strengthening maternal healthcare services in the Woreda, to reduce the incidence of birth injuries, and our community education campaign will provide women with the services and knowledge they need to give birth safely.

Through Hamlin’s Project Zero, our goal is to Eradicate Fistula. Forever.

Project Zero: a three-part approach


Hamlin-trained health workers and patient identification officers will undertake community outreach and household surveys in all 800 Woredas (or districts) of Ethiopia to identify women living with fistula and transfer them for immediate treatment at one of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia’s five hospitals. Women with long-term injuries will also be able to access the rehabilitation and reintegration services offered at Desta Mender.

Project Zero step 1 | Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation | Together we can eradicate obstetric fistula in Ethiopia.


To improve maternal healthcare and outcomes for women, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia will expand its prevention program, with the goal of establishing a midwifery clinic in every Woreda, staffed by Hamlin-trained midwives. The Hamlin College of Midwives curriculum meets the stringent standards of the International Confederation of Midwives, and the College will play an important role in training new midwives for Woredas around the country.

Project Zero step 2b | Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation | Together we can eradicate obstetric fistula in Ethiopia.


A country-wide community education campaign will raise awareness on safe delivery methods, obstetric fistula and other birth injuries, and the treatment options available to women. We will highlight the importance of seeking professional medical care during pregnancy, labour, and after birth. Training will also be given to existing healthcare professionals, so that they have a deeper understanding of birth injuries and can advise their patients of treatment options.

Project Zero step 3b | Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation | Together we can eradicate obstetric fistula in Ethiopia.

The road map to a fistula-free Ethiopia

Project Zero is ending obstetric fistula in Ethiopia, forever.
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This is a picture of our founder: Dr. Catherine Hamlin.Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation

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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.