A midwife for every woman. It’s a simple concept and one that we believe will make the biggest difference in finally eradicating fistula, forever. Under a midwife’s care, problems can be identified early and their work can be the difference between life and death.
Dr Catherine Hamlin’s fight to eradicate fistula has seen her spearhead a national obstetric fistula prevention programme in Ethiopia.
In 2007, the Hamlin College of Midwives was opened.
Students who are high school graduates are recruited from rural areas and trained in a four-year Bachelor of Science degree in Midwifery, with a rigorous curriculum of theory and practice. Each student is on a full Hamlin scholarship, funded by generous donors from around the world.
The college is a centre of excellence and the curriculum meets the stringent standards of the International Confederation of Midwives, including the precondition that students conduct at least 40 deliveries before they graduate.
Each student commits to working as a Hamlin midwife for a minimum of four years following their graduation. They then return to serve in their villages and are often the only healthcare workers for hundreds of kilometres.
Since 2007, 145 midwives have graduated from the college and are now working in 66 rural midwifery clinics, in reach of our regional fistula hospitals for times when referrals are needed. Over the past three years Hamlin midwives have delivered over 40,000 babies and saved many mothers from suffering an obstetric fistula, as well as preventing hundreds of maternal and neonatal deaths.
The importance of these health professionals cannot be overemphasised: every day, more than 830 women around the world die as a result of complications from pregnancy and childbirth. If midwives were present during birth, up to 90 percent of these deaths could be prevented, according to the International Confederation of Midwives.
Our work in action
Graduates, Mawerdi and Seada (pictured), work in Jarso Health Centre in rural Ethiopia. Since their arrival in 2011, they have started a community education program, which has seen deliveries at the health centre increase from 50 per year to a staggering 1,000.
Watch a short video showing Hamlin Midwives’ life-saving work in practice: