A working group

Ethiopia - Working Group

A working group at the EM-PACE Symposium on Jan. 26-28 in Addis Ababa.  Participants discussed their shared research interests and ways that they could collaborate within the EM-PACE framework to address health needs, specifically surrounding interdisciplinary work between U-M faculty and Ethiopian partners.

From left to right Jody Lori (wearing the white sweater), Michelle Munro, and Sue Anne Bell, all of the U-M School of Nursing. Continuing clockwise around is Addis Argo, professor of law at University of Gondar; Harvey Leo, associate professor of Public Health at U-M, Bridgette Carr, director of the U-M Law School Human Trafficking Clinic and her research fellow Eva Foti- Pagan. Off camera is Tim Johnson, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at U-M.

Coffee break

Ethiopian woman brews coffee at EM-PACE symposium.

Ethiopians know how to make a great cup of coffee, and they should because the country is known as the birthplace of the beverage. This woman was providing a traditional Ethiopian coffee service during a symposium for the Ethiopia-Michigan Platform for Advancing Collaborative Engagement in Addis Ababa. The beans are roasted and brewed right before your eyes.  (Photo by Amy Conger, assistant vice provost for global and engaged education at U-M.)

A traditional Ethiopian coffee service at the EM-PACE symposium.

Ethiopia’s foreign minister praises U-M’s Ghana experience

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

We had the great honor to meet with Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Ethiopia’s former health minister who now serves as the country’s foreign minister. Dr. Tedros was one of the prime movers in establishing the partnership between the University of Michigan and St. Paul’s Hospital Millennium Medical College. He visited U-M three years ago and met with Joe Kolars, Tim Johnson and Senait Fisseha to discuss possible partnerships. He said U-M was an attractive partner because of the Johnson-led collaboration with colleagues in Ghana that has been working to improve health care in the West African nation for three decades.

Tedros and Fisseha

Tedros and Fisseha

“What Michigan did in Ghana could be easily applied here,” the foreign minister said. “You cannot implement U.S. standards here, but a U.S. institution with experience in Africa really has more to deliver in Africa. Some of the things they did in Ghana can be replicated in Ethiopia. They know what they are doing. They don’t come with some illusion about the situation and what can be done. They have the experience, so they will come will come with the right understanding and come with something that is tailor made for you.”



Studying HIV

Belen Michael, a graduate student in the School of Public Health, is spending her summer at St. Paul’s Hospital in Addis Ababa studying whether Ethiopian couples infected with HIV are interested in safer conception methods.

A new emergency room

Dr. Zerihoun in his new, smaller office at St. Paul’s Hospital.

Zerihun Abebe’s new office looked like a construction zone, with chunks of brick and plaster piled on the floor. Workers recently knocked a big hole in his wall, creating an entryway to his assistant’s office. The renovation is just one part of a much bigger expansion plan led by Abebe, the provost of St. Paul’s Hospital and Millennium Medical College – the University of Michigan’s biggest partner in Ethiopia.

His spacious old office has been converted to an emergency room that’s better able to handle the growing number of patients in the booming capital of Addis Ababa.

“Addis is suddenly full of traffic accidents, and we only have 12 to 14 beds. It’s crazy,” he said. “Everyday, there are 45 to 50 cases showing up that deserve admission, and for most of them we don’t have beds for them. Now, we will have 35 more beds – 50 beds in total.”



New hope for childless couples

Dr. Jenberu Meskelu in the Andrology Clinic

Dr. Jenberu Meskelu in the Andrology Clinic

The inability to have a child is an extremely serious problem in Ethiopian culture, says Jenberu Meskelu, a physician at St. Paul’s Hospital Millennium Medical College in Addis Ababa.

“If you are a married person, you are expected to have a child,” Meskelu said.

Many couples who have trouble conceiving have to rely on traditional medicine, holy water or other remedies that waste their time and money. But now, patients are getting help at St. Paul’s, which last month opened the first andrology laboratory in a public hospital in Ethiopia.

About two months ago, Meskelu went to the University of Michigan to receive training in andrology, which focuses on male impotence and infertility. The training was part of a rapidly expanding collaboration between U-M and St. Paul’s.

“Before going to Michigan, I had only read about andrology,” Meskelu said. “I didn’t know how it was really done.”

After returning to Ethiopia, he wasted no time practicing what he learned. Two weeks ago, he performed his first intrauterine insemination, which involves taking a semen sample, separating the fast-moving sperm from the slower ones and placing them into the woman’s womb. He plans to do another IUI next week.

It’s too early to tell whether the procedure was successful, but Meskelu is hopeful.

His lab is basic, with a couple microscopes, a centrifuge and supplies that he rations because they can be scarce in Ethiopia.

“It’s a small lab,” he said, “but it will get bigger and bigger.”