Elinor Catherine Hamlin founded and helped fund centers in Ethiopia to treat women affected by fistulas from obstetric complications. Obstetric fistulas develop in women who experience prolonged labor, as the pressure placed on the pelvis by the fetus during labor causes a hole, or fistula, to form between the vagina and the bladder (vesicovaginal fistula) or between the vagina and the rectum (rectovaginal fistula). Both of those conditions result in urinary or fecal incontinence, which often impacts womenÍs social status within their communities. Hamlin co-founded a hospital to treat fistulas and help fund health clinics, a rehabilitation center, and a midwife school. Her work in Ethiopia helped to help train the next cohort of midwives to treat women with obstetric complications and has contributed to the health and social well-being of Ethiopian women.
Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia is a nonprofit organization that began in 1974 as a joint endeavor by Reginald and Catherine Hamlin and the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia promotes reproductive health in Ethiopia by raising awareness and implementing treatment and preventive services for women affected by obstetric fistulas. It also aims to restore the lives of women afflicted with obstetric fistulas in Ethiopia and eventually to eradicate the condition. Obstetric fistulas occur in pregnant women during labor when pressure placed on the pelvis by the fetus causes a hole, or fistula, to form between the pregnant woman's vagina and bladder (vesicovaginal fistula) or between the vagina and the rectum (rectovaginal fistula). Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia is governed by a board of trustees which includes founding member Catherine Hamlin. By 2014, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia supported the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, five treatment centers across Ethiopia, a midwife school, and a long-term rehabilitation center for women impacted by obstetric fistula.
The Family Planning Services and Public Research Act of 1970, often called Title X Family Planning Program, is a US federal law that provides federal funding for family planning services to low income or uninsured families. The US federal government passed the law, Public Law 91-572, in 1970 as an amendment to the Public Health Services Act of 1944. The Act created the Office of Population Affairs (OPA) under the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare (here called the Secretary). Through the Act, the OPA and the Secretary provide resources and policy advice to the US government on health issues. The OPA also issue grants and formed contracts with public and nonprofit organizations to assist in the establishment and operation of voluntary family planning services. The Act helped to extend reproductive health services to low income individuals and to individuals who otherwise struggle to get such services.
John Chassar Moir lived in Scotland during the twentieth century and helped develop techniques to improve the health of pregnant women. Moir helped to discover compounds that doctors could administer to women after childbirth to prevent life-threatening blood loss. Those compounds included the ergot alkaloid called ergometrine, also called ergonovine, and d-lysergic acid beta-propanolamide. Moir tested ergometrine in postpartum patients and documented that it helped prevent or manage postpartum hemorrhage in women. Moir also developed methods to treat tears between the bladder and the vagina, called vesico-vaginal fistulas, that occur due to complications of childbirth, and that cause urinary incontinence in women who have them.
George Nicholas Papanicolaou developed the Pap test in the United States during the twentieth century. The Pap test is a diagnostic procedure used to test for cervical cancer in women. Papanicolaou’s work helped improve the reproductive health of women by providing an effective means of identifying precancerous cells and improving the likelihood of early treatment and survival of cervical cancer.
The Martius flap procedure is a surgical procedure used to treat obstetric fistulas in women. Heinrich Martius developed the procedure in twentieth century Germany to treat women with urinary incontinence caused by stress, and later doctors used it to repair obstetric fistulas. Fistulas occur in pregnant women when a hole is torn between the vagina and the urinary tract (called vesicovaginal) or the vagina and the rectum (called rectovaginal). The hole, or fistula, occurs in the tissue separating two organs and therefore obstetric fistulas result in either urinary or fecal incontinence. Fistulas can occur due to surgery, injury, or chemotherapy, but they most commonly occur in pregnant women who experience prolonged labor and do not have adequate access to obstetric care. As a result of the Martius flap procedure, patients regain functional use of their vaginas without continued urinary or fecal incontinence.