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Hamlin Fistula UK

Exclusively supporting the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital
and the Hamlin College of Midwives

Wholehearted commitment to women with childbirth injuries, with God's love and compassion
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The Facts
This site is dedicated to hope and rebirth, made possible by the generosity of our donors. The task is enormous and we hope you will see in the photos on these pages how much you have done for these unfortunate women and how your kindness continues to reach out and help them where no other help is available. The hallmark of the hospital is love and compassion. Walking up to the hospital entrance pictured above from the noisy and dirty city, the atmosphere immediately changes. They are met by smiling faces of others just like themselves and they can feel the hope in the air.
Fistulas (or Fistulae)

Ethiopia is a very large country of 1 million square kilometres, about the size of France and Spain combined. Its road system is not yet fully developed and that makes it difficult for many patients to get to the main centre in Addis Ababa. Many patients might find the journey too much of a challenge and too expensive. Consequently, a programme of 5 Outreach Centres (regional hospitals) was initiated to make the hospital's skills available to many more women.

Dr Hamlin with a patient who has just arrived.

  • Universally, 5% of all pregnant women have complications in labour. In Europe and the USA, where proper medical facilities are available, these women are usually adequately treated.
  • In Ethiopia, and large parts of Africa and other parts of the world where there are inadequate medical facilities, these women have a difficult, or perhaps an obstructed labour, maybe for days, leading to a stillborn child, which causes a vaginal fistula (a hole) in the bladder, rectum or in the worst cases, in both, leaving them incontinent in one or two respects. It is lifelong, and untreated, the woman becomes an outcast in her society because of her offensive smell.

A human problem on a large scale due to two main factors:

  • Lack of medical/antenatal care and trained doctors in this field and the associated medical facilities; and
  • The dramatic terrain in Ethiopia which makes communication difficult.  75% of the population lives, on average, two and a half days' walk from an all-weather road.

Because many of our patients endure their condition for years, they are physically unable to undergo the operation until they have had a long period of physiotherapy.  Muscles are atrophied and legs are often distorted from sitting in a crooked position to prevent soiling themselves.

For these ladies, the physiotherapy departments in all our Centres ensure the patient is in a healthy state before her surgery. Some require therapy for some months before this surgery.