Bolton WI, March meeting

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ETHIOPIAN HOSPITAL: President Mrs Oliver welcomed members of Bolton WI to our March meeting in Bolton Village Hall.

Secretary Mrs Herdman dealt efficiently, as usual with the minutes and correspondence. Treasurer Mrs Frater requested subscriptions from members who were absent last month so had still to pay.

As the village hall will be used for polling day on May 5, Mrs Oliver kindly offered her home as a venue for our AGM in May.

Our speaker for the evening needed no introduction because most of us know her well.

What we did not know was how interesting, educational and thought-provoking her talk would be.

Her subject was the Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia which she had visited again the previous week.

Without going into medical details obstetric fistula is a horrible birth injury resulting from prolonged and obstructed labour.

It is now unknown in the western world because of medical intervention if labour is not progressing normally. Thank goodness for the NHS.

Beryl continued to tell us about the repair of these injuries by skilled surgeons at the hospital and about the post-operative rehabilitation of the patients, 95 per cent of the operations are successful. The remaining five per cent are cared for at a special village where they can learn new skills and help to support themselves selling craft work or preparing meals for the on-site cafe.

Ethiopia is a huge country with little transport so many patients are unable to reach the hospital in Addis Ababa.

Five outreach centres have been set up near government hospitals in the five provincial capitals.

In addition a midwifery college has been established so that trained midwives can return to their village and help to minimise these terrible birth injuries.

The funding for all this comes from donations made by supporters in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

At our next meeting on April 7, we look forward to hearing about Chile and Argentina from Rosie Smith.