The Australian doctor Catherine Hamlin has been awarded an honorary doctoral degree by Addis Ababa University (AAU) for her work in Ethiopia with women suffering from fistula injuries due to obstructed labour. The obstetrician-gynaecologist collected her degree at a special graduation ceremony at the end of July.

Born in Australia in 1924, Hamlin moved to Ethiopia with her late husband Reginald, also an obstetrician-gynaecologist, in the late 1950s to pioneer the surgical treatment of obstetric fistula, a debilitating condition resulting from prolonged obstructed labour that leaves women incontinent. In the 1970s the couple set up the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, which has since become a global centre of expertise in fistula repair. Its doctors now treat around 2,750 women a year.

Speaking at the award ceremony at the AAU Hamlin urged graduates to stay and work in Ethiopia.