The Hamlin Fistula Project, sponsored by the Institute for Hormonal Health in Oakville, Ontario, provides dedicated support through annual fundraising events to Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia HFE. The project supports the Hamlin Hospital’s mission to provide prevention and treatment for childbirth injuries known as obstetric fistulas resulting from obstructed labour.
Dr. Kristy Prouse, project lead, and OB/Gyn at the Institute for Hormonal Health, describes how a book written by Dr. Catherine Hamlin, also an OB/Gyn, inspired her to volunteer and undertake sponsorship for the Hamlin Fistula Project. Dr. Hamlin’s story and her commitment to the holistic treatment of fistulas resonated with Dr. Prouse’s own Christian beliefs and led her to commit her own efforts to the project. Two years ago, Dr. Prouse travelled to Ethiopia with two of her staff from the Institute for Hormonal Health in Oakville, Ontario, to visit the Hamlin Fistula Hospital.
Dr. Prouse describes how in areas of the world with limited healthcare, fistulas are particularly common when labour is prolonged due to limited medical facilities and lack of transportation. The baby’s head sits in the pelvis for days and the pressure of the head compromises the blood supply to the surrounding tissues including the bladder and the bowel. The tissue dies resulting in uncontrolled loss of urine and feces. If the mother survives, there is a high probability that the infant will die, and the development of an obstetric fistula may result in her husband abandoning the woman, and the community ostracizing her for urine and fecal incontinence.
The trip to the hospital in Ethiopia made a deep impression on Dr. Prouse. She describes how “the hospital itself was unbelievably well cared for and clean. It was a jewel amidst a very large and polluted metropolis of Addis Ababa.” She also explains how even though she “did not share a common language” with the women, their smiles “were enough to appreciate the impact HFE was having.”
Dr. Prouse feels the Hamlin Fistula Hospital provides a valuable service to address the needs of thousands of women who struggle with this condition not only by providing surgical correction, but also by tending to their emotional and spiritual wellbeing and trying to treat them holistically. Teaching them additional skills like basket weaving and needlepoint allow them to integrate into the community following treatment. Last year Kristy’s team raised almost $7000 through fundraising efforts. Won’t you contribute to continue this committed and dedicated Canadian medical team’s efforts to raise awareness and eradicate obstetric fistula in Ethiopia?
Author: Amita Asthana.