A book released last week by well-known fistula surgeon Dr Andrew Browning, who grew up in Bowral as the son of the town's obstetrician Dr David Browning, looks back on a life dedicated to helping women who have suffered childbirth obstructions.
Dr Andrew Browning AM is an Australian obstetrician and gynaecologist who is considered the world expert of obstetric fistula surgery.
During his 17 years living and working as a volunteer in Africa, Andrew operated on more than 7,000 women affected by obstetric fistulas, treating underprivileged women from remote and regional areas.
Andrew began helping patients affected by obstetric fistula - a debilitating condition resulting from obstructed childbirth - after working with the late Dr Catherine Hamlin in the 1990s.
Motivated by his deep Christian commitment, Andrew has spent nearly two decades in Africa, establishing maternity hospitals, preventing and treating fistulas, and training staff, helping to heal some of the world's most disadvantaged women.
It is estimated that more than 2 million women live with untreated obstetric fistula in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
In Australia, the maternal mortality rate is one in 20,000 women, in sub-Saharan Africa, the maternal mortality rate is one in 187 and the lifetime risk of maternal death is one in 38.
In Africa, women suffering with existing obstetric fistula injuries are left with continuous incontinence, leaving them ostracised and often made outcasts in their own community. Andrew's surgeries, and the spread of fistula-skilled practitioners he is training across the continent, does not just relieve the emotional and physical pain of the women affected, but gives them hope and a future.
A Doctor in Africa is the uplifting story of Andrew's life, from the challenges faced along the way to the stories of the women whose lives he has forever changed.
In 2009 he started his own charity, the Barbara May Foundation, to take the work that the Hamlins had started out of Ethiopia to the rest of Africa, and focus more on fistula prevention.
The book is available from bookstores and online.
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