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Ethiopia bids farewell to iconic life-saving gynecologist: Catherine Hamlin

Ethiopia bids farewell to iconic life-saving gynecologist: Catherine Hamlin

Ethiopia

An estimated 60,000 lives saved over her period of practice – total of 61 years, Catherine Hamlin; is celebrated by Ethiopians and maternal health care champions across the world for her work.

She is credited with co-founding one of the most consequential health outfits in Africa’s second most populous nation under the Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation whose express mission is,” to eradicate fistula. Forever.”

Hamlin died at the age of 96 at her residence in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa on March 18, 2020. Her burial took place today years on after she and her husband answered a call in the Lancet medical journal, which advertised that Ethiopia wanted gynecologists for Addis Ababa and to train midwives.

I don't know what I love about Ethiopia, but i love the people and I love the scenery and I love the simplicity of life here.

After working with the army hospital for a period, they started a hospital in 1974. “I don’t know what I love about Ethiopia, but i love the people and I love the scenery and I love the simplicity of life here,” she once said.

Beyond the medical side of her work in the country, she is also reputed as a humanitarian who touched hundreds of thousands of lives. She has been twice nominated for the Nobel peace prize and is the recipient of numerous international awards.

Despite social restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic, a sizeable crowd with a brass band accompanied her hearse through the streets of Addis Ababa. State-run Fana Broadcasting Corporate reports that she was laid to rest at the St. Peter and St. Paul Catholic cemetery in Addis Ababa.

Ethiopians mourned her passing with heaps of praise on social media. President Sahle-Work Zewde and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed also sent their condolence. The president visited the deceased’s residence to pay her respects.

“Dr. Hamlin was a hero who saved more than 60,000 Ethiopian women and girls from obstetric fistula- a physically and psychologically traumatizing condition which caused many women and girls to be ostracized from their communities,” President Zewde said last week when she presented condolences to Dr. Hamlins son.

In May 2019, PM Abiy was present at the inauguration of giant-sized statue of Dr. Hamlin and her late husband Reginald Hamlin in Addis Ababa.

A statement from the PM’s office at the time added: “Prime Minister Abiy commended Dr Catherine Hamlin for her tremendous work of restoring the dignity of Ethiopian women affected by obstetric fistula.

“He expressed his heartfelt appreciation for the care-taking role she took of the most marginalized in their time of grave need. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed also bestowed an award upon Dr Catherine Hamlin on behalf of the Government of Ethiopia for her tireless contribution…”

Today, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia is a healthcare network of over 550 Ethiopian staff servicing six hospitals, Desta Mender rehabilitation centre, the Hamlin College of Midwives and 80 Hamlin supported Midwifery Clinics.

Hamlin is the reference organisation and leader in the fight to eradicate obstetric fistula around the world, blazing a trail for holistic treatment and care that empowers women to reassert their humanity, secure their health and well-being, and regain their roles in their families and communities.

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