Maternal Health

Obstetric fistula is a hole that forms in a woman’s bladder or rectum that is caused by obstructed labour during childbirth and which has devastating physical and social consequences. Ethiopia has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the world. In 2017 The Ethiopian Ministry of Health estimated there are more than 36,000 women living in rural Ethiopia with obstetric fistula and that over 3,000 new cases occur each year. In a county of 102 million, there are less than 7,000 midwives trained to deal with this issue.

Maternal Health

ETHIOPIAID’S AIM: Increase access to quality maternal health and safe childbirth, and help eradicate fistula throughout Ethiopia

Our Solution

To improve the maternal healthcare and the safety of childbirth, Ethiopiaid has partnered with Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, an organisation set up by Dr Catherine Hamlin, and is supporting the following projects: Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, Community Rehabilitation, and the Hamlin College of Midwives.

In collaboration with Hamlin, we have also started funding two new partners: Women and Health Alliance International (WAHA) and Healing Hands of Joy (HHOJ). These three organisations cover diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation for a woman living with fistula. They provide fistula treatment across Ethiopia, as well as rehabilitation and treatment centres, and all leading members of the Ethiopian government’s fistula task force.Just £5 helps give a grieving young mother suffering from obstetric fistula her life back.

  • Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital

    At the hospital, doctors and specialists come from all over the world to volunteer their services. It is thanks to their incredible work that over 95% of all fistula injuries can be successfully repaired. Two decades ago, the hospital in Addis Ababa was the only place where fistula injuries could be treated. Today, Hamlin has a number of treatment centres across Ethiopia and continues to perform life-changing surgeries.

  • Community Rehabilitation

    Desta Mender is a rehabilitation centre that provides a range of support services, helping women who have sustained childbirth injuries reintegrate into society. Often these women have become outcasts, so proper rehabilitation is crucial before they have the confidence to interact with their communities again and educate others about the importance of quality maternal healthcare.

  • Hamlin College of Midwives

    The college was set up to train more midwives in Ethiopia, in order to prevent obstetric fistula in the first place.  The college has developed a progressive curriculum that will enable the midwives to work confidently and autonomously in the poorest areas of rural Ethiopia. The Bachelor in Midwifery degree trains midwives specifically to work independently in their own communities. The course equips midwives with the required knowledge and skills to provide labour and delivery services, antenatal and postnatal care, family planning, HIV/AIDS counselling, record keeping and medical administration.

  • Women and Health Alliance International - NEW PARTNER!

    Ethiopiaid has helped in the improvement of the Gondar Fistula Care Centre and the life of women being treated there. These actions included community mobilisation, socio-economic reintegration of patients, as well as infrastructural support for the centre and training of the resident health care team. WAHA has been able to involve fistula survivors in the making of different types of traditional and unique items, which are purchasable for local customers and tourists. These women work on manufacturing different types of traditional scarves and basketry inside Dabat production centre; a rehabilitation centre built for these women because of the kind support received from our donors. For more information, watch this video.

  • Healing Hands of Joy - NEW PARTNER!

    Healing Hands of Joy aims to prevent fistula through education, identify sufferers, and reintegrate survivors into the community. The Safe Motherhood Ambassador Programme training encompasses basic maternal health education fistula survivors receive to equip them to educate communities and work to reverse the cultural norms that cause home birth and traditional practices to persist. Alongside training, Ambassadors receive: a one month stay at the HHOJ centre, meals during that time, teaching aides, uniform, and an umbrella. They also receive medical care while in the programme.

    HHOJ have engaged religious leaders – who play a great role in the community and are very well respected – to promote the importance of institutional delivery for fistula and maternal child health prevention. They have also employed an initial baseline survey and needs assessment, conducted in each new region, to determine community awareness, knowledge, and utilisation rationale. HHOJ have promoted a range of strategic initiatives: the Condensed Fistula Prevention Training Program provides rehabilitation support. The Skilled Hands of Joy Scholarships aim to improve the skills of rural midwives and increase the scope of the project. mHealth, a mobile phone project, enhances the midwives’ emergency referral capacity and also provides a loan repayment system.

Our Impact

In partnership with Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia and our new partners, we have achieved the following:

  • More than 50,000 women have been treated at the Hamlin Fistula Hospital.
  • Desta Mender is currently home to 45 women who are recovering from fistula injuries. They are receiving practical support to help them gain employment once they leave the centre.
  • There are currently over 90 students training to become midwives at the Hamlin College of Midwives. These will be deployed into their own rural communities so that isolated regions have access to quality maternal healthcare.
  • The Ethiopian government’s fistula task force have identified 2,420 women living with fistula. Our partner organisations are working with the Ethiopian government’s National Polio Campaign in order to identify more fistula suffers. Health care workers go door-to-door identifying those suffering from polio, and also find women living with fistula. Support from the government has helped our partners reach patients who may have been socially isolated or previously unreached.
  • 243 women were treated for fistula across Women and Health Alliance International’s three treatment centres between July and December 2016, and 34 women have been employed at the Dabat production centre.
  • Since the inception of the Safe Motherhood Ambassador Programme, Healing Hands of Joy has trained over 300 fistula survivors to become Ambassadors, preventing needless fistula injuries and stillborn babies. The Ambassadors have educated over 10,000 women in their communities in safe delivery practices.

Case Studies

Read our case studies here