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Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation

Life-changing obstetric fistula surgery for 20 Ethiopian women.

Life-changing obstetric fistula surgery for 20 Ethiopian women.

Ethiopia remains a developing country that still faces significant challenges in the provision of maternal and reproductive healthcare to rural and remote reg...

01/11/2021 > 31/01/2022


  • International aid & development
  • Health/wellbeing & medical research


  • Women and girls
  • People experiencing socio-economic disadvantage or vulnerability


Ethiopia remains a developing country that still faces significant challenges in the provision of maternal and reproductive healthcare to rural and remote regions of the country. Over 80% of Ethiopia’s population lives in these areas and has little or no access to quality healthcare. Consequently, more than 70% of women in Ethiopia give birth without a doctor or nurse present. Obstetric fistula patients presenting at Hamlin are mostly from these very poor, rural parts of Ethiopia with limited, if any, education and few income generation skills or opportunity.

Obstetric fistula is a thing of the past in developed countries but, in Ethiopia, it is estimated that up to 39,000 women are suffering from this debilitating yet preventable childbirth injury – and there are approximately 1,800 new cases every year. Shame and social exclusion is extremely high for women suffering incontinence due to fistula and these women are often hidden away and may not identify in census information or to researchers.

Hamlin’s Patient Identification and Treatment program is increasing outreach efforts in remote communities and districts where women are likely to be physically and emotionally isolated by the devastating effects of fistula. Many of these women have suffered alone for years, perhaps decades, without knowing that help is available.

For most women, a simple operation can repair their fistula injuries and completely transform their lives. All patients are treated free of charge, thanks to the generosity of our donors and partners.

Hamlin’s dedicated Prevention officers provide training in how to identify women with obstetric fistula to frontline health professionals at all levels, also to community and religious leaders. Patients will be referred to a nearby regional Hamlin fistula hospital for assessment, counselling, treatment and rehabilitation. The ultimate goal is for women to regain their health and dignity so they can thrive upon reintegration into their communities (or independent living).

This project will provide surgical treatment and rehabilitation for 20 women at Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa fistula hospital, repairing their fistula injuries and restoring their lives and dignity.


1. Women whose fistulas are repaired secure their health and wellbeing.

Indicators of success:
- Women identified with pre-existing fistula injuries
- Women linked to Hamlin's Addis Ababa fistula hospital for surgery to repair fistula injuries
- Women have successful fistula repair surgery and return to full health.

2. Women regain their roles in their families and communities.

Indicators of success:
- Number of women who return to their families and communities with their health and dignity restored and regain their role in society.

3. Increased national awareness of obstetric fistula and more widespread knowledge of how to seek treatment.

Indicators of success:
- Increased number of women presenting at Hamlin regional hospitals and rural clinics
- Increased number of women surgically treated, rehabilitated and reintegrated into their communities.

Profile of Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation

Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation

The Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation is dedicated to restoring the health and dignity of Ethiopian women who have survived the horrendous childbirth injury, obstetric fistula. This entirely preventable condition occurs when women do not have access to timely, high quality health care during childbirth and is caused by a prolonged, obstructed labour that leaves a woman incontinent, humiliated and often cut off from her community. Tragically, 93% of these women will also lose their baby.

For most women, a single surgery can repair their fistula injury and completely restore their life and dignity. In the last six decades, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia has treated more than 60,000 women and today, we are more determined than ever to fulfil Dr. Catherine Hamlin's dream of eradicating this devastating injury in Ethiopia, forever.

Dr. Catherine Hamlin pioneered the Hamlin Model of Care, which ensures holistic treatment and care — both physical and psychological — to secure women's health and wellbeing, empowering them to regain their roles in their families and communities. Every woman who arrives at a Hamlin hospital with a fistula injury receives a customised program that includes surgical repair, rehabilitation and counselling.

The Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation raises vital funds and awareness for Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia's Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, five regional Hamlin hospitals, more than 50 Hamlin-supported rural midwifery clinics, the Hamlin College of Midwives and Desta Mender, Hamlin's rehabilitation and reintegration centre.

Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia is the leader in the fight to eradicate obstetric fistula around the world. It is globally renowned for its surgical treatment technique and is a centre of clinical excellence, training surgeons from all over the world.


TOTAL BUDGET: $510,000
Funding sourceAmount
Funding gap (unconfirmed)$137,000
Perpetual Impact Funding$80,000
Harvey Foundation$20,000
Neilson Foundation$50,000
Tar-Ra Fund$100,000
Private individual donors$85,000
IMC Asia Pacific$38,000
Expense itemAmount
Obstetric fistula surgery including pre and post-operative hospital care and support services for 728 Ethiopian women at Hamlin's Addis Ababa fistula hospital$510,000

Support Life-changing obstetric fistula surgery for 20 Ethiopian women.

Got a question about this project or ready to contribute? Contact our Philanthropy & Impact Team.


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