Dr. Mulu Muleta
In a Class of Her Own
“My life’s purpose found meaning in restoring hope and dignity to women afflicted by fistula. I walk proudly on the path paved by the footsteps of my patients, whose resilience and courage taught me the true meaning of strength”.
My journey began in the picturesque village of Abebe Buri, in the year 1961 GC. Born into a family of hardworking farmers, I graced this world as the eldest daughter of my three younger brothers.
My childhood stood apart from the norm in that era, for it was a time when societal expectations confined girls to the realm of household chores, relegating their dreams of education to mere whispers. But in the face of these limitations, there stood a man whose beliefs were extraordinary —my father.
With unwavering dedication to my academic success and a conviction that knew no bounds, my father shattered the chains of bias and belief. He firmly held the belief that boys and girls were equally deserving of the pursuit of educational excellence. In a world that sought to confine girls to domestic duties, he pushed against the tide, urging me and my brothers to step into the hallowed halls of learning, to strive, to excel, and to reach the highest of heights. The image of my father, with his unwavering dedication and nurturing spirit, remains etched in my memory.
At a tender age, my educational journey commenced under the guidance of Kes Timhirt Bet, (a priest-led schooling) an early educational foundation. My father believed that starting school as early as four years old was instrumental in a child’s development. With the assistance of our godparents, my father ensured that I had the opportunity to learn. At the age of four, he would take me to them, imparting the wisdom that if a girl could study the Book of David, she would excel in her studies. (“ሴት ልጅ ዳዊት ከደገመች፣ጎበዝ ትሆናለች።”) These religious teachers often traveled from Gojam to Shewa in search of work opportunities, held a remarkable role in our community. They would be welcomed into homes, provided with shelter and sustenance, and in turn, would create a space for local children to gather and learn. After a month or two of my stay with my godparents, my father, in his unwavering determination, brought a Kes to our very own home ensuring that I completed my Kes Timhirt Bet. It was there, within the walls that witnessed my growth and nurturing. Even at such a young age, my father’s dedication knew no bounds. During lunchtimes, he would cradle me on his lap, unraveling the mysteries of the world through his teachings.
When I turned 7 years old, I embarked on an educational journey at Ginchi Elementary School. Located in a town two hours away from my home, my brothers and I followed a memorable routine each week. Due to the challenging distance, we decided to limit our school trips to just Mondays and Fridays, making the journey biweekly. Every Monday morning, my brothers and I would wake up bright and early at 5:00 AM. We set off on a two-hour walk, braving the quiet streets and serene surroundings as the world awakened around us. Hand in hand, we walked side by side, sharing in the beauty of the awakening world. During our journey, our devoted mother would carry our youngest brother for part of the way. We would then bid her farewell and eagerly ran the remaining distance to the school compound. The anticipation of the day ahead filled us with energy and excitement. As the school week progressed, we immersed ourselves in the learning and experiences. Engaging lessons, the guidance of dedicated teachers, and the camaraderie of our classmates made each day special. When Friday evening arrived, it marked the end of the school week and the time to return home to our parents. The cycle of our journey began anew each week.
Even then, my father continued his active role in my educational journey, consistently supporting, motivating, and appreciating me every step of the way. He actively participated in school events, demonstrating his unwavering commitment to my education. I recall fondly how my father would visit my school and personally engage with my teachers, showing genuine interest in my progress. On one memorable occasion, during my 6th-grade international exam, he went above and beyond. I can vividly remember him standing by the window, eagerly awaiting the announcement of the results. As I caught sight of my excellent marks, I nodded in approval and quietly conveyed the good news to him. My teacher, curious about my exchange, glanced up and noticed my father by the window. Without hesitation, my teacher approached my father, extending a handshake and conveying these words: “She is a bright student. Please continue to support and encourage her at home.” It was a powerful endorsement, an acknowledgment of my abilities, and a testament to the impact my father had on my academic journey.
I wasn’t your typical student who would rush home to bury myself in books. Instead, I found a deep joy in listening attentively to the words of my teachers. Their explanations captivated me, and I would absorb every detail, even committing to memory the way they wrote on the chalkboard. In my mind, I would scan and remember the information in my mind. When it came to homework, I preferred to tackle it right there in the classroom. I wanted to make the most of my time, sparing no extra moments dedicated solely to studying. Once the school day ended, you could easily find me outside, playing balls or running around with my fellow students. It was as if I had an unwavering belief in the mantra, “There is time for all!”—a perfect harmony between learning and fun.
I can still recall the admiration, advice, and encouragement bestowed upon me by my teachers. They saw something special in me and took pride in showcasing my abilities to the entire class. They would bring me from one classroom to another, encouraging students to ask me any question that came to mind. Their trust in my capabilities and their unwavering belief in my ability to answer any challenge that arose gave me immeasurable strength. It propelled me to push further and strive for greatness.
In contrast to being shy, timid, or reserved, I embraced an outgoing nature. I was never one to hold back, and I allowed my playful side to shine whenever I wanted. This vibrant approach to life allowed me to fully engage with the world around me, making the most of every experience.
Upon completing my primary education, I embarked on the next chapter of my academic journey in Ambo. It was a time filled with both excitement and challenges, sharing a rented house with four of my closest friends. Together, we created a supportive and nurturing space where we could navigate the trials and triumphs of high school. Our rented abode became more than just a place to live. We cooked meals together, studied side by side, and provided unwavering encouragement to one another. We became a tight-knit support system, relying on each other’s strengths and offering a shoulder to lean on during difficult times. Together, we pushed through the demanding rigors of high school, sharing our dreams and aspirations, and motivating one another to reach our full potential. While the distance from my family presented its own set of challenges, the support and companionship of my friends helped bridge that gap. We created a home away from home, where we could find solace and encouragement amidst the demands of our studies.
My father’s profound desire to see me and my siblings prosper was tragically cut short when he passed away while I was just entering the pivotal stage of my sophomore year in high school. The untimely death of my father, amidst a backdrop of political upheaval, shattered my world. His absence left an irreplaceable void, robbing me of his unwavering support and guidance. It was a devastating blow, threatening to derail my dreams of pursuing higher education. This became a source of an immense hardship and sorrow to our entire family. As the anchor of our family, my mother found herself thrust into a new role, shouldering responsibilities that were once shared. Overnight, she became both mother and father. In addition to the emotional toll, my father’s death also had a significant financial impact on our family. Grief threatened to consume me. It took time for me to know that succumbing to despair would betray the legacy my father had left behind. In the face of adversity, I made a conscious decision to rise above the circumstances and forge ahead, turning our shared aspirations into a driving force for success. Though he did not live to see me don the graduation gown or embark on my college journey, his unwavering faith in my potential fueled my determination to fulfill his dreams.
In the final days of high school, it was time for us to make a pivotal decision about our future fields of study at university. Deep within me, there existed a profound love for numbers. There was an indescribable joy that swept over me when I delved into the world of mathematics and solved intricate equations as the allure of numbers and physics fascinated me beyond measure. However, my teacher held a different perspective and envisioned a different path for me and my friends—one that led to the noble profession of medical doctors. I can still vividly recall the moment when I confidently put down “Engineering” as my desired field of study only to have my teacher tore it up before my eyes and replaced it with “Medicine.” In that instant, my dreams of pursuing a career in engineering were momentarily shattered as my teacher’s well-intentioned guidance redirected my aspirations.
The idea of pursuing medical school hadn’t even crossed my mind. I held onto a belief that had been ingrained in me from an early age—the notion that women, particularly Ethiopian women, were destined to become only nurses. This belief took root in my mind during a significant event in my life—the car accident my mother had been involved in. As I stood in the hospital, I observed white men adorned in white coats, being hailed as doctors, while Ethiopian women served as nurses. This stark contrast solidified the notion that perhaps, as an Ethiopian woman, my career options would be limited to nursing, while the prestigious title of “doctor” was reserved for white men.
It was challenging to be admitted to the School of Medicine back then. Especially considering the stringent requirements for medical school admission. Particularly during a time when access to libraries, books, and even teachers was limited. The scarcity of resources posed significant challenges, making the pursuit of knowledge and academic excellence all the more demanding. However, against all odds, I found myself among the select group of only twelve qualified students chosen for this esteemed opportunity from my school.
By a remarkable stroke of luck, my friend and I found ourselves among the fortunate few who were chosen to be part of the pioneering group of medical students at Gondar University. The allocation process was simple yet arbitrary, with odd-numbered names destined for Addis Ababa University and even-numbered names like ours assigned to Gondar University. It was a significant moment for us to be part of history as the first batch of medical students at Gondar University, the second institution in Ethiopia to establish a School of Medicine after Addis Ababa University. We cherish this honor and still gather for reunions every month or two, celebrating our shared journey and the bonds we formed.
Prior to this milestone, Gondar University primarily graduated students as Health Officers. This posed its own set of challenges, particularly regarding the resources available to us. We were concerned about the availability of books, the adequacy of the laboratory equipment, and even the qualifications of our European teachers. Many of our teachers hailed from East Germany, and there was understandable apprehension about their familiarity with the diseases prevalent in our region. Tropical diseases, in particular, are not commonly encountered in Germany, and we worried that their knowledge base might not sufficiently equip us to treat patients in our own country. We did not accept and settle for such issues. Instead, we were determined to address them head-on, recognizing their importance and refusing to compromise on the quality of our education. To address the concern regarding our teachers, we advocated vigorously for a more comprehensive education that would better prepare us for the specific health challenges of our region. Our efforts paid off when teachers from Addis Ababa University stepped in to bridge the gap. They dedicated two to three months to teach us their specialized subjects, ensuring that we received a well-rounded education that encompassed the unique healthcare needs of our nation
My journey through Medical School was made even more challenging by the presence of political issues that loomed over. Some of my fellow students were dismissed, while others faced imprisonment and such. Many chose to withdraw from the school altogether, as leaving seemed to be the only way to make it out alive. And so unfortunately, not everyone was able to persevere until the end.
Despite the numerous challenges we faced, giving up was never an option to consider for me. Hearing about the stories of persecution and the struggles faced by my fellow students, thoughts of self-preservation would occasionally arise. It was tempting to think that it might be better for my family if I prioritized my own safety. However, a louder voice within me reminded me of my roots in the rural area and the expectations of those who hoped for me to succeed and make a difference. With my single mother and younger siblings in mind, I saw the obstacles ahead as a mountain that I had to overcome, whether by pushing through it or climbing over it. Additionally, having my friend by my side made all the difference. The friendship bond we shared made the path we walked seem smoother, our burdens lighter, and our joys more vibrant.
When I initially enrolled in Medical School, there were 120 students in our cohort. Among which only 20 were female students. As years progressed, the number of students gradually dwindled and ultimately, only half of the original group successfully completed their medical education. Within that small group, a mere seven of us were women. I consider it a personal victory to have been among the 20 female students who qualified for admission and, ultimately, one of the seven who reached the end. As a result of perseverance through these trials, those of us who remained until the finish emerged as resilient and well-prepared individuals. This was clearly evident when we reached our Internship years and were assigned to Tikur Anbessa Hospital. The senior professors who served as our examiners were not only impressed but also proud of our exceptional performances. Their recognition served as a validation of the immense dedication and determination we had invested in our education.
As I progressed through my medical studies, a remarkable turning point occurred during my final year of internship. Among our esteemed teachers from Germany, there was one extraordinary obstetrician and gynecologist in her sixties. Accompanied by her two former students, who had also become accomplished obstetricians and gynecologists, she would grace the labor ward every evening at 9:00 PM, a trio united in their mission. Reverently, we began to refer to them as “the Trinity,” for they moved and worked as one harmonious entity. Their arrival would spark a flurry of excitement as we all rushed to witness them perform. Despite her frail physique, requiring the support of her students as they moved from place to place in the hospital, her surgical prowess defied all expectations. In a mere 15 minutes, she would effortlessly complete Cesarean Section (CS) deliveries, showcasing an unparalleled level of skill and precision. Her efficiency and expertise were awe-inspiring. Moreover, her kindness and compassion towards the patients left a lasting impression on me. Night after night, I watched her in action, and as time passed, I found myself irresistibly drawn to the field of Obstetrics and Gynecology. I admire her exemplary skills and compassionate approach in all she did. To this day, she remains my role model, and the passion she ignited within me for this specialty continued to burn bright.
I did internship at Zewditu Memorial Hospital, where I had the privilege of working under the guidance of a kind and experienced senior gynecologist. He recognized my unwavering dedication and genuine interest in the field as I consistently arrived early and stayed late, fully immersed in my work. Whenever he visited the labor ward, he would often find me there. One particular moment, as he performed a surgical procedure, he turned to me and posed a question: “If I handed you this blade, what would you do?” I confidently outlined the steps I would take. To my surprise, he did entrusting me with the responsibility. As an intern, it was a rare opportunity to take the lead in performing five cesarean deliveries. The surge of adrenaline mingled with my deep-rooted interest, overpowering any apprehension or fear. Guided by the assurance that my senior would be there to correct any missteps, I embarked on the procedures with determination. This encounter served as a profound catalyst, solidifying my commitment to Obstetrics and Gynecology. It reinforced my belief that this field was my calling, and that I possessed the drive and capability to excel within it. At the age of 23, I graduated from medical school, earning a humbling recognition in the local Serto Ader Newspaper as “The accomplished young lady who completed medical school at such a young age.”
I went on to complete my postgraduate studies in Gynecology and Obstetrics at the age of 29. It was a time filled with mixed emotions and concerns, particularly regarding my own fertility. Seeing patients struggling with infertility due to age heightened my worries and I felt a sense of urgency. In light of these concerns, I made the decision to get married immediately after graduating in June. The following year, also in the month of June, I was blessed with the arrival of my first son. Five years after the birth of my first son, I welcomed another addition to our family. The decision to have another child stemmed from my eldest son’s request for a sibling to play with. Although it brought me great joy to fulfill his wish, the timing presented its challenges.
During this period, my husband was pursuing his master’s and Ph.D. studies, which required him to be away. As a result, I found myself shouldering the responsibilities of raising two young children mostly on my own. It was a demanding and sometimes overwhelming task, but I was determined to provide the best care for my children. Fortunately, I had the invaluable support of my mother who stepped in to help me navigate the challenges of being a mother and managing the household. Together, we formed a strong support system allowing me to fulfill my parenting duties while balancing other responsibilities such as night duties and jobs that required traveling to different parts of the country and world.
As one of only two siblings, I felt a strong desire to provide my sons with the same sense of belonging and happiness that I experienced growing up in a large family. With my brother living next door and my other brother’s children close by, we formed a big family with a total of six children. Together, we created a tight-knit group that fostered a deep sibling bond.
Being a dedicated advocate for education and academic excellence, I took it upon myself to tutor not only my own children but also the children of my brothers. Even after long days of work, I would stay up until late at night, sometimes until 1:00 AM, to ensure that they fully understood their lessons. This commitment was essential because I had to march off to work early the next morning, leaving me with limited time. I invested immense effort into ensuring the educational success of all the children who grew up under our collective efforts.
Today, I can confidently say that my children have achieved remarkable success. They are my ultimate priorities, and it is their happiness that fuels my drive to work effectively outside the home. I have no regrets about the way I raised my children. My eldest son completed his Civil Engineering degree at Addis Ababa University and he is currently pursuing his master’s degree in Germany. As for my second son, Dr. Lemi, he recently graduated from medical school at Addis Ababa University, embarking on a promising career as a doctor. The satisfaction and accomplishments of my sons bring me immense joy, reinforcing the belief that nurturing happy children is the foundation for success in all aspects of life.
During my professional time at Hamlin Fistula Hospital, I had the privilege of serving in diverse and impactful roles over a span of 18 years. I was the first obstetrician and gynecologist to work with the Hamlins. I served as a skilled surgeon and led the Research and Training Unit eventually holding the position of Medical Director. For a remarkable six years, I took the responsibilities and challenges that came with being the Medical Director. It was within this institution that I dedicated the longest chapter of my career as an Obstetrician and Gynecologist. Throughout my tenure, I worked tirelessly driven by the profound joy that radiated from my patients eyes as I witnessed firsthand the transformative power of compassionate and specialized care. Guided by a deep sense of purpose, I collaborated with a team of exceptional healthcare professionals to provide comprehensive and innovative solutions to women suffering from obstetric fistula. Together, we worked tirelessly to restore dignity, heal physical wounds, and empower these women to reclaim their lives.
One accomplishment here was that I and my professional coworkers addressed the challenges faced by patients who had to travel long distances to reach the fistula center. Instead of having a single center in Ethiopia, we decentralized the services and established outreach centers in Bahirdar, Mekelle, Yirgalem, Harrar, and Metu. This strategic decision aimed at providing better accessibility for patients and reduce complications they faced before reaching the hospital. This ensured that patients had access to medical facilities where cesarean section surgeries and other necessary procedures could be performed. This approach aimed to prevent the occurrence of fistula complications altogether. This emanated from the recognition of the importance of timely intervention and the impact it could have on a patient’s quality of life.
The Patients who had already experienced fistula complications faced difficult situations looking for means of transportation to reach Hamlin Fistula Hospital or any other medical facility. They would be looked down on by people who have no shame explicitly demonstrating their disgust. To overcome this barrier, we adopted the principle of “If the patients cannot come to us, we can go to them.” The establishment of decentralized centers was a proactive step to bring fistula treatment closer to the affected individuals. By reaching out to patients in their local communities, we aimed to provide timely and essential medical care, eliminating the need for extensive travel and associated complications.
I joined the Safe Motherhood National Task Force as a member force while I was at Hamlin (1984 – 2008 continued at WAHA) where we collaborated with the Ministry of Health on a campaign to eradicate fistula by 2020. Unfortunately, the goal was not achieved due to inadequate healthcare facilities and ongoing conflict in our country which brought the number of incidence rate higher again. However, we continue our efforts with a renewed slogan of “Make fistula history by 2025.” Our aim is to eliminate this complication of poverty and ensure that no woman in Ethiopia struggles with obstetric fistula.
In 2000, I successfully completed my one-year Master of Science program in Disease Control with a specialization in Reproductive Health at the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium. In addition to my academic achievements, I also obtained a Certificate in Leadership Training from the University of San Francisco in 2003. While serving at Hamlin Fistula Hospital, I had the privilege of serving as a consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist at the African Union (AU) Medical Center for a duration of seven years. This part-time role allowed me to expand my professional horizons and contribute to the healthcare landscape on a broader scale.
I also have a Ph.D. from the University of Bergen, Center of International Health and Clinical Medicine. My doctoral research involved conducting a nationwide prevalence study on obstetric fistula in Ethiopia. My PhD research focused on the prevalence, magnitude, causes, and consequences of obstetric fistula in Ethiopia. It was a nationwide community-based study that covered all regions except for Gambella due to security issues in 2005. This unique research involved both interviews and pelvic examinations to accurately diagnose fistula, rather than relying solely on medical history which can be influenced by various factors. We also analyzed the psychosocial and medical impacts by examining identified cases. The analysis encompassed a dataset of over 14,000 cases, allowing us to assess factors such as age and social background. Additionally, we examined different types of fistula and treatment outcomes. The findings from this study have provided valuable insights to the global community. Conducting community-based surveys is both time-consuming and costly, making them rare. Therefore, our research has become a significant point of reference for numerous other studies.
This pioneering research entailed carrying out an extensive door-to-door census across all regions of Ethiopia to assess the scale of fistula cases. The study required immense coordination and effort, as I led a team that traveled to even the most remote villages across the nation. We aimed to identify and document every single case of obstetric fistula at the community level. This enabled us to gather accurate epidemiological data to understand the true prevalence of this debilitating condition. Completing this PhD was a major milestone in my career. The rigorous research skills I developed through my doctoral training equipped me with valuable knowledge that I have applied extensively in my medical practice. I am proud to have made a significant research contribution towards understanding and addressing major maternal health challenges facing Ethiopian women.
After serving for 18 years at Hamlin Fistula Hospital, I transitioned to a role at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) where I coordinated a Masters training program for over a year. In this capacity, I developed the curriculum for the Integrated Emergency Surgical Officers Master level training, which implemented task shifting. Task shifting involves transferring the skills and tasks of gynecologist obstetricians to non-doctor healthcare workers, such as nurses or health officers, in areas with limited access to specialized medical professionals. This approach aims to address the challenges faced by countries with low obstetrician and gynecologist availability.
While working at UNFPA and being involved in task shifting, my responsibilities primarily revolved around paperwork rather than direct clinical interactions with patients. However, there was a significant turning point in my perspective when one day, as my son was driving me home, I shared with him the story of a patient I had previously operated on. This patient was desperately seeking my help after experiencing complications from a surgical error made by other doctors attempting to rectify the issue. Dr. Zufan, a friend of mine and the founder of Hemen Hospital, had located the patient and referred her to me. I performed the necessary surgery at her hospital, resulting in a successful recovery for the patient. As I recounted this story to my son, he witnessed the joy and fulfillment it brought me. It was in that moment that he recognized my deep passion for hands-on clinical work, a passion that I had unconsciously overlooked amidst the paperwork. His observation served as a wake-up call, urging me to redirect my focus towards clinical practice, where I could directly witness the positive impact on patients and experience the profound joy it brings.
In 2010, I joined Women and Health Alliance (WAHA) International as a Fistula surgeon and representative for their Ethiopia office to develop an international training program. Registering the NGO in Ethiopia proved challenging due to the prevailing negative perception of NGOs at that time. It took 18 months to complete registration. WAHA International, headquartered in Paris, France, is a medical NGO committed to delivering comprehensive healthcare services to impoverished communities, with a specific emphasis on the well-being of women and children.
As time passed and I contemplated my own experience and expertise, I became acutely aware of the importance of knowledge transfer for sustaining the field. This realization fueled my desire to create a lasting impact. While my passion lies in clinical work, I recognized the incredible potential of a university-based approach. And so my work primarily involved in collaborating with universities such as Gondar, Jimma, and Arsi, where we provide hands-on training and created Fistula centers. At WAHA, the mission is to extend our reach to areas that the Hamlin Fistula Hospital couldn’t previously cover, ensuring that women in need of care receive the attention they deserve. I embarked on this innovative journey, training dedicated consultants and teachers who were eager to enhance their skills. These individuals would then pass on their acquired knowledge to their students, creating a ripple effect of expertise.
It is also important to reintegrating fistula patients into society. These women often faced challenges and stigmatization within their communities, which could take a toll on their well-being. Being fortunate enough to be granted a 200m2 area in Debark, a space for cured fistula patients to showcase their remarkable handiwork in weaving was established. This initiative served multiple purposes. Firstly, it provided these women with a platform to display their skills and creativity, allowing them to regain a sense of pride and accomplishment. Secondly, it created an opportunity for people to support and empower these women by purchasing their woven products. This fostered a supportive and inclusive environment where the community could directly contribute to the empowerment and rehabilitation of these courageous women.
The heavy workload and constant travelling at WAHA prompted me to reassess what I wanted to do for the next stage of my life and giving time for myself and family. A falling accident that could have been fatal led my family to make a difficult decision—to prioritize my well-being and put an end to my nomadic work. In 2017, I bid farewell to WAHA and officially retired. In the same year, I embarked on a Urogynecology sub-specialty program in Jima, which spanned a year of intensive study and training. This program allowed me to delve deeper into the specialized field of urogynecology, which focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of pelvic floor disorders in women. Determined to continue making a difference in the lives of women, I established my own Mother and Child care clinic—a sanctuary where healing and support would be provided. It has been five years since the clinic’s inception, and during this time, I have dedicated my efforts to treating fistula and prolapse patients free of charge.
I find fulfillment in offering compassionate care to those who have endured immense suffering. Every day, I strive to create an environment of hope, where women can find solace and regain their strength. My clinic serves as a beacon of light, a place where the burdens of financial constraints are lifted, and medical treatment is accessible to all. The joy that comes from witnessing the transformation of these brave women fuels my passion and commitment. With each patient I treat, I am reminded of the power of empathy, kindness, and unwavering support. I work daily, looking toward to a future where no woman is left to suffer silently, where fistula and prolapse become mere echoes of the past. My mission continues, as I remain dedicated to the cause of providing effective, compassionate care to women, one patient at a time.
I’d like to see fistula no longer haunts Ethiopia. I’d like to see a world where healthcare centers for mothers are not only accessible but readily available when they are most needed. These are the dreams that fuel my passion and purpose. I yearn for the day when the mere mention of fistula evokes memories of a bygone era, replaced by stories of triumph and healing. Before I bid farewell to this world, my ultimate desire is to witness the resounding proclamation that fistula has been eradicated, forever banished from our nation and the acknowledgement of healthcare as a human right to mothers and the underprivileged.
“I want to see a fistula-free Ethiopia.”
Throughout my journey, I have been able to open doors of opportunity for thousands of women in Ethiopia, as well as other low-resource countries in Africa and Asia facing these health-related challenges that range from obstetric complications and reproductive health issues to infectious diseases and chronic conditions. These women’s’ medical needs have been addressed and their holistic well-being has been promoted. The impact of this approach is far-reaching. When women are healthy, they can actively participate in their communities and contribute to social development. They become advocates for their own well-being and agents of change within their families and communities.
As a dedicated doctor working in the field of Obstetrics and Gynecology, my demanding work schedule often limits my ability to have an active social life and participate fully in my community. With early mornings, late nights, and even overnight stays at the hospital, my commitment to emergency procedures and patient care leaves little time for personal engagements.
However, amidst these challenges, I am grateful for the unique opportunity I have to partake in traditional gatherings, such as Edir. This allows me to foster a sense of belonging within my community. While my work may keep me occupied, I treasure the moments I can join in these gatherings, as they provide a vital connection to the people around me. The joy and fulfillment these bring reminds me of the importance of balancing my professional commitments with the vibrant aspects of my personal life. Despite the demanding nature of my profession, I cherish the opportunities to engage with my community through these traditional gatherings, reinforcing my identity, and creating lasting memories that rejuvenate and inspire me in my life journey.
Looking back on my life journey, I am filled with immense gratitude. Despite formidable challenges, I persevered in pursuing my passion for women’s healthcare. My father ignited a spark within me that grew into a burning flame, fueling my dedication to education and excellence. Though his physical presence is gone, his unwavering spirit continues to guide me. My life’s purpose found meaning in restoring hope and dignity to women afflicted by fistula. I walk proudly on the path paved by the footsteps of my patients, whose resilience and courage taught me the true meaning of strength. As I pass the torch to the next generation, it is my hope that the light continues to shine brightly, illuminating the way towards a future where every woman has access to compassionate, quality care. This is my enduring dream and legacy.
What do they say about Dr. Mulu Muleta
Dr. Genet (protégée)
Dr. Mulu is a kind, cooperative, and highly skilled physician who goes above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of her patients and the community. She embodies compassion, professionalism, and a deep commitment to improving women’s reproductive health. Her impact is felt not only in the medical field but also in the lives of those she touches with her care, empathy, and willingness to help others.
Throughout her career, Dr. Mulu has devoted herself to the excellence of reproductive health for women. She has been actively involved in advancing academic development in reproductive care and treatment, pioneering the urogynecology fellowship program in the country. Her dedication to training others and conducting extensive research in the field has been remarkable. She has particularly focused on women facing neglected problems, including those who are poor, abused, or lacking support. Dr. Mulu has tirelessly worked beyond urban areas, reaching out to rural communities. During her time at the Hamlin Fistula Hospital, she played a pivotal role in establishing satellite sites, which significantly improved access to reproductive health services for many. Dr. Mulu embodies qualities of humility, continuous learning, and respect for others. She remains up-to-date with the latest medical knowledge and fosters a welcoming and collaborative environment. Whether interacting with senior professionals or first-year students, she treats everyone equally and with the utmost respect. Her meticulousness, punctuality, and politeness are evident in her work, and she serves as an exemplary team leader.
Dr. Mulu’s influence reaches the highest levels, as she engages with policymakers and contributes to the “End Fistula Project.” This initiative aims to design and implement strategies to eradicate fistula, a condition that affects countless women worldwide. Her expertise and insights help shape policies that can bring about lasting change and improve the lives of those affected.
On an international stage, Dr. Mulu’s stature as a recognized FIGO fistula surgeon allows her to make a global impact. She travels extensively, presenting her work and operating on patients in Asian, African, European, and American countries. Her ability to share her experiences and knowledge contributes to the advancement of reproductive health practices worldwide.
A significant accomplishment of Dr. Mulu’s leadership was the development of the Gondar Fistula Hospital Centers at the University. Overcoming challenges, she spearheaded the establishment of a dedicated space for fistula patients. Through her tenacity and persuasive skills, she successfully convinced leaders to allocate a space for the hospital. The result was a outstanding facility with a capacity of 70 beds, equipped with two operating rooms and a rehabilitation area.
In my own personal journey, Dr. Mulu lifted me up when I was a young physician, fresh out of school with an abundance of confidence but lacking in knowledge. She taught me the true essence of humility and showed me how to provide exceptional care to my patients. Through her guidance, she transformed me into a compassionate and dedicated doctor, emphasizing the importance of connecting with patients on a deeper level.
Dr. Mulu’s impact as a mentor and educator is both profound and inspiring. Her dedication to uplifting others and fostering a sense of purpose in their lives is a testament to her passion for reproductive healthcare. Through her transformative teachings and unwavering support, she has left an indelible mark on the lives of countless individuals, forever shaping their personal and professional journeys.
Her story is one of resilience and unwavering commitment to improving the lives of women. Her own hospital stands as a testament to her determination to make a lasting impact in the field of reproductive health. Through her selfless service, she not only transforms the lives of individual patients but also empowers a new generation of healthcare providers to carry on her mission. Dr. Mulu’s unwavering dedication and tireless efforts continue to inspire and uplift both her patients and the wider community, leaving an enduring legacy in the fight for women’s rights and access to healthcare.
Misrak Beneberu, Patient
A previous patient who was cured only by the hands and expertise of Dr Mulu and her wholistic patient care.
I had the privilege of experiencing Dr. Mulu’s extraordinary care during a critical period in my life. When no other doctor was able to identify or help me with my health issue, Dr. Mulu stood out as the one who went above and beyond to find a solution. Her exceptional attention and genuine empathy towards my well-being were evident. Words cannot adequately express the gratitude I feel towards her for helping me when I felt hopeless.
Dr. Mulu’s reputation as the best urogynecological doctor in the country led me to seek her expertise. Yet, despite her remarkable achievements, she remains incredibly humble. She deflects attention away from herself, always focusing on her patients and their needs.
Her unique blend of professional excellence and compassionate care is what makes her an extraordinary doctor. Her genuine dedication to her patients’ well-being is truly inspiring. It is an honor to have been under her care, and I am forever grateful for the support and guidance she has provided me.
As women enter middle age, regular check-ups and timely management of health issues become increasingly important for maintaining a high quality of life. Unfortunately, many women face the challenge of being caught in a bewildering state of suffering without clear answers. Dr. Mulu’s specialization in treating women during menopause is truly exceptional. Her ability to blend professional excellence with a compassionate personality sets her apart.
Dr. Mulu’s humility and selflessness are qualities that make her an exceptional doctor. She is an unsung hero in the lives of countless women who desperately need her help. It is our responsibility to spread the word, to ensure that every woman in need has the opportunity to experience the life-changing care that Dr. Mulu provides. This is not just for her, but for all of us who depend on her expertise and compassion.
Dr. Lemi, Son
When I think of my mother, I would describe her as an extraordinary woman who embodies boldness, determination, and compassion. Throughout her journey in the provision of healthcare, she has consistently displayed these qualities, leaving a lasting impact on those around her.
First and foremost, her boldness stands out. She fearlessly pursued her career, starting from her early days working at a Fistula Hospital to her involvement with WAHA and eventually establishing her own hospital, Ithiel. She never shied away from challenges and was always willing to take risks in order to make a difference in the lives of others. Her unwavering commitment to serving the community is truly inspiring.
In addition to her boldness, my mother’s thirst for knowledge is remarkable. Despite living in a time when education for women was not highly valued, she pursued multiple degrees and diplomas, dedicating years to her education. From an MD in medicine to a master’s in public health, specializing in OBGYN, and even obtaining a PhD and a subspecialty in gynecology, her academic achievements are a testament to her dedication and perseverance. Her pursuit of knowledge has not only inspired me but also countless others who look up to her as a role model.
As a mother, she has been an unwavering source of love, support, and guidance. She has always made sure that my brother and I felt her presence in our lives, despite the demanding nature of her work. Her selflessness and ability to balance her professional and personal responsibilities have been truly remarkable. I am grateful for the sacrifices she made to ensure that we had the best opportunities in life.
Furthermore, she has played a significant role in instilling the value of education in our family and the wider community. She has gone above and beyond to support not only my brother and me but also my five cousins, her siblings, and anyone close to her. Through her guidance, she has emphasized the importance of academic success and cultivated a deep desire for learning within all of us. Her influence has created a nurturing environment where everyone feels like a part of a big family.
My mother, is a woman of extraordinary qualities. She is bold, determined, and compassionate. Her relentless pursuit of knowledge, unwavering support as a mother, and dedication to education have left an indelible mark on our lives.
“World’s best doctor by day, world’s best mum by night”
In the eyes of others, my mother is simply a professional woman in her white coat, stethoscope around her neck, and a name tag proudly displayed. They admire the fulfilling life she leads and the remarkable work she does. But what they fail to see are the hidden struggles she endures. They don’t witness her sitting on her bed, exhausted from sleep deprivation, or collapsing in the operating room due to hunger after a long day without a meal. They don’t realize the times when illness weakens her hands, making it challenging to hold the surgical scissors.
Unbeknownst to many, she selflessly gives others health while often sacrificing her own well-being. Her personal hardships go unnoticed and unacknowledged. Unlike most people who can leave their work behind when they return home, my mother is constantly on the move. Despite the passing years, she tirelessly dedicates herself to her profession, working with the vigor and energy of someone much younger.
The true measure of a person’s worth lies in the time they dedicate, the effort they exert, their performance, and their intentions. As a healthcare provider, personal matters take a backseat the moment she steps into her job. It fills me with immense pride to witness the unwavering consistency with which my mother delivers exceptional care, performing up to seven surgeries a day. However, it also breaks my heart to see her endure the hidden burdens that others fail to recognize.
Even if the world may not offer her the recognition she deserves, it is of no consequence. The genuine appreciation she receives from those whose lives she has touched is far more meaningful. As her son, I am deeply moved by her relentless determination and selflessness. I yearn for others to witness the sacrifices she makes and the challenges she overcomes each day.
My mother exemplifies the epitome of a healthcare provider, where personal matters pale in comparison to the lives she touches. The consistency with which she has served throughout her lifetime fills me with a mix of pride and sorrow. Pride for her extraordinary dedication and sorrow for the unseen hardships she endures. Even if the world fails to recognize her, she lacks nothing in terms of true recognition and appreciation. “We recognize her as a Brilliant Doctor, a Loving Mother, a Leader!