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Midwives’ art exhibition raises money

October 19, 2006

Midwives’ art exhibition raises money for Ethiopian fistula trust

The New Zealand midwives art exhibition open in Christchurch last night will raise funds to support fistula welfare in Africa.

The exhibition was held at the Christchurch Convention Centre as part of the New Zealand College of Midwives 9th biennial conference.

Prime Minister Helen Clark viewed the exhibition.

The proceeds will go to the Hamlin Fistula Welfare and Research Trust in Ethiopia which has the oversight of the management of the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital.

The Hospital treats 1400 women suffering obstetric fistula every year and helps some of the most destitute women outcasts in one of the poorest countries in the world.

Given that millions of women in the developing world suffering from obstetric fistula, the issues has the support of NZ midwives, the NZ College of Midwives chief executive Karen Guilliland said today.

``Being able to treat obstetric fistula is an important and necessary step toward improving the lives of women currently living with this condition.

``Midwives in developed countries are supporting ongoing efforts to help prevent and treat fistula.

``Our job in NZ is all about bringing life into this world and we want to help improve the health status of women worldwide.’’

It is estimated that throughout the world, one woman in every twenty will have difficulty in childbirth. Many girls and young women with fistula injuries have suffered a terrible tragedy, experiencing a life of rejection, separation, loneliness and "shame".

In 1958, two Australian doctors Reg and Catherine Hamlin, went to Ethiopia to train midwives. Seeing the plight of these poor women, they became determined to help them and set up a fistula trust.

They developed a delicate surgical technique that, in most cases, will result in a complete cure. Then they built the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital. Since then more than 26,000 women have been treated and cured.

The effect of their work is spreading world-wide, restoring new life and dignity of thousands of young women.

Last year the Oprah Winfrey Clinic was built in Ethiopia after an interview on worldwide television with Dr Catherine Hamlin.

The World Health Organization and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) have been campaigning in 30 countries in Asia and Africa against obstetric fistula, a childbirth complication which can kill the child and leave the mother with chronic incontinence.

Doctors say it could be prevented if girls were allowed to marry later and received adequate health care during pregnancy and delivery.

ENDS

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