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A message of hope from Hamlin’s youngest fistula surgeon

Hamlin’s Metu Fistula Hospital opened its doors twelve years ago, making it the youngest of Hamlin’s six fistula hospitals across Ethiopia.

Located by the Sor River in the Oromia region of western Ethiopia, Metu is strategically placed to serve a catchment area of 35 million people – making it a vital access point to quality maternal care. The hospital also works closely with 11 Hamlin-supported midwifery clinics in the region, providing them with training, supplies and acting as a key point of referral for past fistula patients who are pregnant, to provide caesarean sections.

Meet Dr Zehara Sualih

Leading the way at Metu is Dr Zehara Sualih, pictured, Hamlin’s youngest surgeon. A trained obstetrician and gynaecologist, she is a valued member of Hamlin’s clinical team.

Dr Zehara is firmly rooted in the Metu community. She joined Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia in 2015, after previously working at Metu’s Karl Hospital in obstetrics and gynaecology. She holds a degree in medicine from the nearby University of Gondar, specialising in obstetrics and gynaecology.

Her motivation to work for Hamlin is clear:

“It is the best centre in Ethiopia to take care of women in need”

Dr Zehara

It was not until she joined Hamlin that Dr Zehara learnt the surgical technique used for obstetric fistula repair, training under Hamlin’s Medical Director Dr Yeshineh and other specialist senior fistula surgeons. The work of Hamlin’s founders Drs Catherine and Reg Hamlin is incredibly inspirational for members of the Hamlin Clinical Team:

“I don’t have the words to describe their selfless effort to change the lives of poor women. Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia’s work has enabled a lot of women to live again and move forward”

Dr Zehara

Becoming an even better fistula surgeon

In the eight years since she joined Metu Fistula Hospital, Dr Zehara has performed over 800 fistula repair surgeries. Thanks to Hamlin’s status as a centre of excellence in maternal health, Dr Zehara has been able to develop professionally through the Hamlin Urogynaecology Fellowship and the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) surgeon training programme:

“It makes me a better physician to holistically manage women’s birth injuries. My priority is to serve women with up to date, high quality care. Being a female Obstetrician-Gynaecologist, a mother and a friend to Ethiopian women who come to our hospital – I have no other option than to dedicate my life to helping these women and alleviating the burden of their suffering.”

Dr Zehara

When she is not changing women’s lives, Dr Zehara likes to spend time playing with her four children, reading books and watching the occasional movie. Balancing life and work, Dr Zehara has been able to flourish professionally.

“I feel that I am living a meaningful life! I am very happy with my job and the organisation is doing great”

Dr Zehara

A message of hope

Dr Zehara is working to build a world where fistula has been eradicated. She looks forward with optimism:

“My hope for the future is generations of empowered women, who can make Ethiopia fistula-free.”


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