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Fistula Hospital

In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Cahterine Hamlin and her late husband worked to create the Fistula Hospital. It is a facility that provides free reconstructive surgery for women with obstetric fistula. If you have never heard of obstetric fisutla, Google it. The quick explanation is that it is a hole between the birth canal and the rectum. The real answer is that it is a problem where no midwives exist because the women give birth alone and do not know how to help “stuck” babies get out. “Stuck” babies account for 8% of all maternal deaths world wide and leave many more women suffering from fistulas.

The cheapest flight we could find to Central Africa gives us a 10 hour lay-over in Addis Ababa. So, if we are lucky, we will be able to visit the Fistula Hospital and learn more about their work. If we are really lucky we will be able to help them begin a training program for community midwives. I don’t know if that will work though. One of the reasons it is working so well in Central Africa is because Flory is connected to so many communities through the churches and is able to gather the women to volunteer. I don’t know what kinds of connections the Fistula hospital has.

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Jennifer Vanderlaan CNM MPH is the author of the BirthingNaturally.net website. She has been working with expectant families since 2000, training doulas, childbirth educators, and midwives. She has worked with midwives in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her interest in public health grew in 2010, and she is now a PhD student learning to become a producer of knowledge.

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