2018 - Ongoing
In the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa lies a hospital for women only. The patients are all incontinent and all mothers of stillborn babies. They live with a hidden hole in their bladder and have come to the hospital to receive help. Some of them have lost everything and to them the hospital has become their only sanctuary. They all suffer from the childbirth injury fistula.
Worldwide more than two million women and young girls live with untreated fistula. Most of them live in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa in poor areas far away from hospitals. Prolonged labour, limited access to midwifery and teenage pregnancies are some of the factors causing fistula. The injury leaves the women and girls with a hole between the birth canal and the bladder, which means they can’t control the leaking of urine or faeces anymore. This places them in a very vulnerable situation. Many women experience being rejected by family members, left by their husbands and alienated from their local communities. It also makes it hard for the women to work due to the incontinence, and many are pushed out into further poverty.
The women’s hospital Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia is one of the only hospitals in Africa that solely focuses on treating the injury. In Ethiopia alone it is estimated that, about 39.000 women live with untreated fistula and 3.700 develop the condition annually. The women’s hospital focuses not only on operating fistula patients. It also runs a rehabilitation centre for those women who suffer most severely under social stigmatization or incurable fistula.