A deserved accolade
The year was 1959; the people Catherine and Reginald Hamlin both Medical Doctors; the place, Addis Ababa. The couple responded to an announcement on one of the most prominent medical journals, The Lancet, to establish a midwifery school in Addis Ababa. Despite their lack of knowledge in obstetric fistula, the duo ventured into establishing the midwifery school and were dragged into obstetric fistula because of the growing cases that came to the Princess Tsehay Hospital where their school was housed. Now, 60 years has gone by and her husband has departed long ago. However, Catharine saw her then school grow into a prominent fistula hospital in Ethiopia. The 95-year-old Catharine Hamlin garnered more than 30 recognitions during all three regimes that ruled Ethiopia. On Wednesday May 31, 2019 PM Abiy Ahmed (PhD) graced the celebration of the family’s 60 years of success and service to the country for which a commemoration of a life size statue of the two crossing hands was erected within the hospital’s grounds. Now there are a handful of medical centers in the country that followed her footsteps. These centers serve Ethiopians in treating fistula, a situation 50,000 to 100,000 women suffer from annually, according to a study by UNFPA and Engender Health. But, according to a study titled the changing face of obstetric fistula surgery in Ethiopia, fistula cases have shown decline but still remains to be a challenge to Ethiopia with 2,593 new cases of urinary fistulae identified between the study period of 2011 and 2015. According to the Fistula Foundation, between 36,000 and 39,000 women are living with fistula in Ethiopia, and over 3,000 additional new cases occur each year.