The Australian Features Dr. Catherine Hamlin, Honorary Citizen of Ethiopia

Australian doctor Catherine Hamlin, who has lived in Ethiopia since 1959, is the founder of the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital. Ethiopia conferred an honorary citizenship on Dr. Hamlin in 2012. (Courtesy photo)

The Australian Magazine

Almost 60 years ago, two Australian doctors and their young son arrived in Ethiopia on a three-year contract to work as obstetrician-gynaecologists and establish a midwifery school. “The fistula patients will break your heart,” a colleague warned them, and he was right. Thousands of young women had suffered serious internal injuries during childbirth that left them incontinent and shunned by families and villagers.

Little or no treatment was available, prompting Reg and Catherine Hamlin to refine a surgical technique to repair these women, giving them back their lives. In the face of civil war and famine, they went on to revolutionise maternal healthcare in Ethiopia, building hospitals, training doctors and repairing more than 50,000 women. At 94, Catherine is still going, having lost Reg to cancer 25 years ago. She tells journalist Sue Williams: “All I can do is to carry on with this work.’’ A more remarkable woman you will not meet.

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Related:
Ethiopia Honors Dr. Catherine Hamlin with Honorary Citizenship

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