The Addis Ababa Fistula hospital is a miracle-working place for many hurting women in Ethiopia. It was founded in 1974 by two Australian obstetrician-gynecologists, Drs. Reginald and Catherine Hamlin. Today, the hospital provides free fistula repair surgery to approximately 1,200 women every year and cares for 35 long-term patients.
The Fistula Hospital has restored the lives and hopes of more than 25,000 women who would have otherwise died or suffered lifelong complications from childbirth injuries. Fistula Hospital has developed the model program for fistula treatment worldwide, and has inspired numerous centers throughout the developing world.
All medical students specializing in obstetrics and gynecology in Ethiopia today are required to train at Fistula Hospital for two months. More than 100 surgeons from throughout the developing world have received fistula repair surgery training, and the global health community has come to recognize the importance of treating the world’s fistula victims.
What is it?
A fistula is an abnormal connection or opening between two parts of the body. The most common type of fistula treated at the hospital is a recto-vaginal fistula. According to wikipedia, this is
is a medical condition where there is a fistula or abnormal connection between the rectum and the vagina. Rectovaginal fistula may be extremely debilitating. If the opening between the rectum and vagina is wide it will allow both flatulence and feces to escape through the vagina, leading to fecal incontinence. There is an association with recurrent urinary and vaginal infections.
Fistulas are often caused by trauma in childbirth, and the reason for their frequency in Ethiopia is two-fold. First of all, female genital mutilation is extremely common in Ethiopia. And secondly, girls are frequently married and give birth at extremely young ages, often before their bodies are even completely mature and able to safely birth a baby. Once these injuries accur to them, they leak urine and feces wherever they go. They are often stigmatized in these countries, and become outcasts. If not for the Fistula Hospital, many would never lead normal lives again.
Married as Children, Women With Obstetric Fistulas Have No Future-Story about a woman who was helped at the hospital
Oprah Goes to Ethiopia -and visits the Fistula Hospital
Inside the Fistula Hospital Joy Village -slide show of Oprah’s visit.
Visit to the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital- with good photos