“Midwifery I believe is the answer – to put a well trained midwife in every village of Ethiopia would soon eradicate obstetric fistula.”– Dr Catherine Hamlin
Eradicating Obstetric Fistula – Hamlin Midwives
To achieve Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia’s vision of eradicating obstetric fistula, we need more midwives in rural areas of Ethiopia. Midwives can identify pregnancy complications and prevent fistula injuries occurring in the first place.
That’s why in 2007 Dr Catherine Hamlin established the Hamlin College of Midwives – to increase access to quality healthcare across Ethiopia.
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The Hamlin College of Midwives
The Hamlin College of Midwives is a centre of excellence for the training of midwives in Ethiopia. It is located 10km outside of Addis Ababa, on the same grounds as our Rehabilitation and Reintegration Centre, Desta Mender.
Since 2007, over 250 Hamlin Midwives have graduated from the College. Each student undertakes a four-year Bachelor of Science degree in Midwifery and commits to working as a Hamlin Midwife for a minimum of four years following their graduation. Students are deployed back to their local areas to work in Hamlin-supported midwifery clinics, where their skills are desperately needed.
The curriculum meets the stringent standards of the International Confederation of Midwives, including the precondition that students conduct at least 40 deliveries before they graduate. Each student is on a full Hamlin scholarship, funded by generous donors around the world. There are currently 68 students studying the Bsc in Midwifery.
The Hamlin College of Midwives is a cornerstone of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia’s vision: ensuring that women in Ethiopia have access to timely and quality maternal healthcare, preventing obstetric fistulas.
In 2022, we welcomed Konjit Kassahun as the incoming Dean of the Hamlin College of Midwives and Head of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia’s nationwide Prevention Program encompassing the clinics and midwives. Konjit was formerly the Matron and Head of Nursing at Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital.
In 2018, the Hamlin Midwives Alumni Network (HMAN) was established – a network to provide ongoing support and training for graduates of the Hamlin College of Midwives.
Hamlin’s Postgraduate Masters in Midwifery
Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia’s new Postgraduate Masters of Science Degree in Clinical Midwifery at the Hamlin College of Midwives is well underway. The Masters focuses on emergency obstetric, gynaecologic and newborn care.
The first intake of 31 students began in January 2022 and another intake of 30 students will commence in January 2023, with approximately 50% of these being former Hamlin BSc graduates.
Hamlin’s goal is to continue to scale up the program and increase future intakes annually. As a postgraduate program, the Masters consists of 55 credit hours of study and 582 hours of clinical practice that will be completed over two and a half years.
Key outcomes of Hamlin’s Masters in Midwifery include:
- Reducing new incidences of obstetric fistula and maternal/neonatal deaths
- Increasing the number of safe deliveries
- Providing quality neonatal care post childbirth
- Reducing crisis referrals to Hamlin hospitals for emergency caesarean deliveries due to early detection of pregnancy/childbirth complications by Hamlin Midwives.
Graduates from Hamlin’s Masters in Midwifery will be able to perform caesarean deliveries in health clinics, a game changer for maternal health in rural Ethiopia. They will also form the next generation of midwifery educators.
Victoria Birth Simulator
Over the past year, post-graduate students at the Hamlin College of Midwives have been using an interactive state-of-the-art ‘Victoria S22– Labour and Delivery Simulator’, acquired to complement their clinical training.
The Victoria model features fully programmable physiological parameters. Students learn to perform emergency caesarean deliveries, manage intraoperative and postoperative complications as well as practise neonatal care.
Victoria’s symptoms and reactions are controlled through a laptop, allowing students to engage with dynamic scenarios that imitate those they will face working in the field.
Hamlin Midwifery Clinics and the Impact of a Hamlin Midwife
The impact of a Hamlin Midwife is remarkable – when a midwife arrives at a Hamlin-supported midwifery clinic, new cases of obstetric fistula drop to almost zero in nearby villages. Hamlin Midwives play an essential role in preventing fistula injuries and saving the lives of hundreds of mothers and babies every year.
Based in more than 90 Hamlin-supported midwifery clinics across rural Ethiopia, these trained professionals also support, nurture and empower women while sharing invaluable knowledge, building trusting networks and transforming entire communities.
Over the past year alone, Hamlin Midwives have safely delivered 18,606 babies. In FY22 there was not one maternal death in a clinic where a Hamlin Midwife was placed.
In recent times, our midwives have also been on the frontline in the fight against COVID-19, helping to prevent infection in the communities they work in.
Since 2012, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia has partnered with GreenLamp to improve health outcomes for women in rural Ethiopia. GreenLamp’s Solar Suitcase Initiative provides sustainable clean power to Hamlin’s Midwifery Clinics, where there is often no reliable power and light.
The importance of these health professionals cannot be overemphasised. Every day, more than 830 women around the world die as a result of complications from pregnancy and childbirth. In Ethiopia, 401 mothers die for every 100,000 births. If midwives were present during birth, up to 90% of these deaths could be prevented, according to the International Confederation of Midwives.
The increasing number of Hamlin Midwives in rural communities of Ethiopia is vital to ensure women no longer suffer for days on end in an obstructed labour.
No woman should have to suffer the pain and indignity of an obstetric fistula injury – with access to Hamlin Midwives, they don’t have to.