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UNFPA Statement in Memory of the late Dr. Catherine Hamlin

The woman who dedicated her entire life to the battle against obstetric fistula has passed away peacefully at her home in Ethiopia on 18 March 2020 at the age of 96. She worked tirelessly to ensuring the rights of women and girls to live a dignified life.

The late Dr. Catherine Hamlin came to Ethiopia with her husband more than 60 years ago at the invitation of the Ethiopian government to work as obstetrician-gynaecologists and set up a midwifery school in Addis Ababa.

She and her husband learned about the distressing fistula situation in Ethiopia the same day they arrived in the country. Though the Hamlins had never seen an obstetric fistula case before and there was little or no treatment available in Ethiopia, this didn’t deter them from offering a helping hand to contribute to addressing the scourge. The Hamlins refined their surgical technique to treat obstetric fistula injuries, eventually establishing the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in 1974. It was the only medical centre in the world at that time dedicated exclusively to obstetric fistula repair.

Dr. Catherine Hamlin changed the lives of tens of thousands of women and girls who suffered obstetric fistula through the holistic services being offered at the Hamlin Fistula Hospital, the five satellite fistula centres across the country and the Desta Mender.

UNFPA is honoured to have partnered with Dr. Catherine Hamlin and the Hamlin Fistula Hospital in changing the lives of women and girls and empowering them.

UNFPA along with the rest of the world deeply mourns Dr. Catherine Hamlin’s passing.

Rest in Peace.