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Honouring the Doctor Who Shone the Light for Ethiopian Women

The acclaimed Australian gynaecologist and humanitarian Catherine Hamlin has died in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, at the age of 96. Dr Hamlin and her husband Reginald co-founded a network of clinics in Ethiopia offering free reconstructive surgery for obstetric fistula – a traumatic injury caused by difficult childbirth that leaves women incontinent and often socially isolated. After her husband’s death in 1993 she continued to build on their work. She was twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and received numerous awards. She became an honorary Ethiopian citizen in 2012. Some 60,000 women have had life changing operations at the Hamlin’s dedicated fistula hospital in Addis Ababa. When Dr. Hamlin and her husband arrived in Ethiopia, there was little to no treatment available for such patients anywhere in the country. Poring through medical books, journals and drawings of operations by other experts, the two developed pioneering surgical techniques that are still used in hospitals today.