Although 5% of women globally will experience an obstructed labour, women who do not have access medical attention, may experience an obstetric fistula. According to a 2021 Ethiopian study*, rural women are 1.5 times more likely to experience fistula, with those women living a considerable distance from midwifery clinics 3.7 times more likely to experience fistula. Fistula is preventable. This is why increasing access to rural midwifery care is so important for remote communities.
In addition to Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia’s six regional fistula hospitals and outreach program, a large part of ensuring care reaches the most remote areas is through placement of Hamlin Midwives into rural communities.
Young women from rural communities are provided scholarships to the Hamlin College of Midwives to complete a four-year Bachelor of Science in Midwifery Degree. Upon graduation, they are deployed to their local communities where they provide professional maternal health care to women. So far, 218 Hamlin Midwives have graduated from the college and are transforming communities through eradicating maternal death and birth injuries.
The presence of Hamlin Midwives is desperately needed for rural women to deliver their babies safely. Of the 19,000+ babies delivered by Hamlin Midwives last year, not one woman experienced an obstetric fistula injury.
Almost 73% of fistula injuries are caused by an obstructed and prolonged labour. Hamlin Midwives play a critical role in timely referral to nearby hospitals for further medical attention and often a caesarean delivery.
The 2021 study confirmed the vulnerability of rural women to experiencing an obstetric fistula injury. The team at Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia is committed to Dr Catherine Hamlin’s vision for a midwife in every village of Ethiopia. We believe no woman should have to endure the agony of fistula. To achieve this vision Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia has increased its presence in remote areas of Ethiopia to 94 Hamlin-supported midwifery centres this year.
*Gedefaw, G., Wondmieneh, A., Getie, A., Bimeraw, M., Demis, A. (2021). Estimating the prevalence and risk factors of obstetric fistula in Ethiopia: Results from Demographic and Health Survey