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Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s fertility rate is among the highest in the world. With less than 30% of births attended by a medical professional, women face a greater risk for obstetric fistula.

Why We Work in Ethiopia

Today Ethiopia has the third-fastest growing economy of any country of 10 million or more people, behind India and Myanmar.  Despite this promising outlook, intractable poverty continues to plague the country’s rural areas where 80% of the population resides. Ongoing ethnic conflict has displaced millions of Ethiopians. In 2018 alone, 2.9 million people were forced from their homes.

This instability has had a significant impact on Ethiopia’s women, particularly those living in rural areas, where fertility and maternal mortality rates are among the world’s highest.  All the risk factors for fistula are present, including the practice of early marriage, teenage pregnancy, and a scarcity of maternal health services. Less than 30% of births are attended by a skilled medical professional. 

A USAID study found that an estimated 36,000 to 39,000 women in Ethiopia live with obstetric fistula, and over 3,000 additional new cases occur each year. 

What You Help Us Do

We are investing in the following areas to build Ethiopia’s in-country medical services and provide life-transforming surgery to as many women as possible:

Meet Our Partners

We are currently partnering with Aira Hospital and Village Health Partnership to deliver fistula treatment to women in Ethiopia.

What projects are we currently funding?

Aira Hospital

Founded in the 1950s by the German Hermannsburg Mission (GHM), Aira Hospital operates today as a nonprofit institution owned and administered by the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus. It serves hundreds of patients daily and an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 citizens each year. Funding from Fistula Foundation has enabled the hospital to provide free fistula surgeries and free patient transportation to and from the hospital. We also support midwifery training to support safe childbirth delivery at Aira Hospital and 16 clinics throughout the countryside.

Village Health Partnership

Established in 2010, Village Health Partnership is a non-profit medical aid organization that works to provide safe motherhood for women in rural and remote areas of Ethiopia. A true partnership of American and Ethiopian women’s health specialists, VHP operates in some of the most high-needs areas of the country where civil war and unrest impact everyday life, particularly in the war-torn and isolated areas of the Wollega region.

Who are our past partners?

Hamlin Fistula Hospital

From 2004 to the fall of 2016 Fistula Foundation provided over $10 million of support to Hamlin Fistula Hospital, the largest facility in the world devoted exclusively to fistula care. Our support funded the hospital’s operating costs and built a new hospital in Harar, Ethiopia. Hamlin now has their own organization in the United States dedicated to raising money for them exclusively.

Women and Health Alliance International (WAHA)

The University of Gondar, located in the historic town of Gondar in the country’s northern region, is the oldest medical training institution in Ethiopia. In 2011, the school celebrated the inauguration of a new International Fistula Training and Treatment Center. Thanks to their close relationship with our partner WAHA, Fistula Foundation was honored to provide significant funding for the center’s construction. The university will now be able to carry out substantially more fistula operations, conduct research, and provide training to medical professionals from across Africa and Asia. 

Through WAHA, Fistula Foundation has also funded surgeries and training at rural satellite sites in Adama and Jimm, and at Dollo Ado, the second-largest refugee camp in the world and located in the southeastern region of the country along the Somali border.

How much funding have we granted?

Aira Hospital

  • $12,000 in FY2019
  • $17,500 in FY2012
  • $17,500 in FY2011
  • $15,000 in FY2010

Aira Nursing School

  • $10,000 in FY2016
  • $33,800 in FY2015
  • $16,425 in FY2012

Hamlin Fistula Hospitals

  • $830,996 in FY2016
  • $708,836 in FY2013
  • $700,354 in FY2012
  • $617,053 in FY2011
  • $1,106,627 in FY2010
  • $1,082,878 in FY2009

WAHA – Gondar, Adama & Jimma University Hospitals

  • $84,775 in FY2015
  • $100,000 in FY2014
  • $200,000 in FY2012
  • $206,226 in FY2011

WAHA – Dollo Ado

  • $25,000 in FY2013

News from the Field

Dr. Mulu Muleta Receives France's Highest Distinction  •  February 13, 2015
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Fistula Foundation partner surgeon, Dr. Mulu Muleta has been awarded the Knight medal of the Order of the Légion d’Honneur, the highest decoration in France, for her commitment towards the health...
Fistula Foundation partner surgeon, Dr. Mulu Muleta has been awarded the Knight medal of the Order of the Légion d’Honneur, the highest decoration in France, for her commitment towards the health of women in impoverished areas of Africa. Dr. Muleta has spent nearly 20 years as a fistula surgeon and currently lives in Ethiopia, where she provides fistula surgeries, surgeon training, and serves as country representative for our long-term partner, Women and Health Alliance International (WAHA). Last fall, Dr. Muleta was profiled in an article in Newsweek, which documented her path toward becoming a fistula surgeon, which you can read at this link. Read more about Dr. Muleta's award on the WAHA International blog, here. Published on Feb 13, 2015
Newsweek: The Afterbirth Miracle  •  October 13, 2014
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Fistula Foundation and our long-term partner surgeon Dr. Mulu Muleta are featured in this article in Newsweek. For more information about our work with her through Women and Health Alliance...
Fistula Foundation and our long-term partner surgeon Dr. Mulu Muleta are featured in this article in Newsweek. For more information about our work with her through Women and Health Alliance International in Ethiopia, click here. The Afterbirth Miracle By Rob Verger It’s late June, but it’s chilly in Asella, Ethiopia—the city is higher in altitude than Denver—and the patients in the hospital are wrapped in blankets. Dr. Mulu Muleta puts on a white doctor’s jacket and starts making her rounds. She checks in with each woman, holding the patient’s hands, or touching her shoulders, as they speak. One patient, Hawa, wears a bright purple and white gown. She’s 33 years old. When she was 16, she lost her first baby and developed an obstetric fistula, a condition sometimes caused by a very prolonged labor, when the baby’s head presses on the nearby tissue, causing it to lose its blood flow and die. That can create a fistula—it’s the Greek word for hole—between the vagina and the bladder or rectum; the urine or feces (or both, in the case of a double fistula) then trickles out through the vagina. This results in a double tragedy: In 90 percent of obstetric fistula cases, the baby is stillborn. For the mother, the condition causes chronic incontinence—a form of prolonged torture—and stigmatization. Hawa lived with her fistula her entire adult life, bearing three children successfully despite the injury. In the hospital today, she is still wearing a catheter after having surgery to repair the damage caused by the fistula. Muleta, who estimates she has performed more than 10,000 of these procedures, is one of the best in the world at it. Read the full article on Newsweek.com or read it in Spanish in Newsweek en Español.   Published: Oct 13, 2014
At 90, This Doctor Is Still Calling  •  February 06, 2014
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Fistula Foundation partner and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Dr. Catherine Hamlin recently celebrated her 90th birthday. She was joined by women whose fistulas have been healed at the hospital she...
Fistula Foundation partner and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Dr. Catherine Hamlin recently celebrated her 90th birthday. She was joined by women whose fistulas have been healed at the hospital she founded with her late husband in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. By Nicholas Kristof We in journalism tend to cover airplane crashes, corrupt officials and loathsome criminals with gusto, but let’s take a break and applaud a hero. Catherine Hamlin, an Australian gynecologist who has spent most of her life in Ethiopia, is a 21st-century Mother Teresa. Continue reading at the New York Times   Published: Feb 6, 2014

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