By: Conrad Person, Director, Corporate Contributions, Johnson & Johnson
Today, the world marks World Health Day with ambitious goals for advancing the wellbeing of all people – with a special focus on women and children, whose fates are inextricably linked to overcoming poverty through the Millennium Development Goals. It is a time to celebrate how much progress we have made on issues like clean water and safe birth, but also a chance to reflect on the staggering gaps in health resources for women that still exist between developed and developing countries, and how we can address them.
Obstetric fistula is a stark and heartbreaking example. An internal injury of childbirth that affects two million women worldwide, fistula is the result of days of obstructed labor with no relief and no assistance. Women who develop fistula are the poorest of the poor – they typically live in developing countries and lack access to prenatal care and emergency interventions like a caesarean section. Unable to prevent or treat the condition, one difficult delivery is all that stands between these women and a humiliating, lifelong disability.
In Ethiopia, Dr. Catherine Hamlin and the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital are helping to correct that tragic imbalance. For more than 50 years, Dr. Hamlin has been a pioneer of maternal health, providing the surgery and support that can give a woman her life back, first by founding the hospital with her husband and then by starting a college for midwives to train rural birth attendants to provide care to women that no one else can reach.
Johnson & Johnson is privileged to partner with the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital to support its work and learn from Dr. Hamlin’s extraordinary example how best to address the root causes of fistula – improving access to prenatal care and building capacity for obstetric emergency services. She has helped us understand the power of using education for professionals, community leaders and women to close gaps in health care delivery. Today, thanks to this partnership, Johnson & Johnson devotes more philanthropic resources on preventing conditions like fistula than on repairing them.
Watch this video to learn more about Dr. Hamlin and her remarkable story: