Patient patients in Gondar’s Vision Clinic

By Jeff Walline, Associate Professor
Ohio State College of Optometry

In Ethiopia, optometry is a bachelor’s degree, but I am here to teach six motivated students obtaining Master’s degrees in optometry. One purpose of their education is to expose them to optometry procedures that are practiced in the United States that are typically not practiced by optometrists in other parts of the world. Therefore, I teach them things that they cannot practice due to economic, social, and/or technologic constraints. However, the students are very interested in learning. Hopefully, they will also be able to practice these procedures in Ethiopia and teach future optometrists to practice them as well.

Below is a picture of patients waiting to have their eyes examined in the Vision Clinic. They wait in the courtyard of a three story building that appears old and decrepit in some areas and never completely finished in other areas.

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Patients waiting to have their eyes examined.

 

Ethiopian people are very patient, and waiting seems to be a natural part of their lives. They wait for eye examinations, they wait for cabs, they wait for something that never seems to appear. However, they never complain about waiting. It just seems to be a part of their lives.

What I teach optometry students in two semesters, I have squeezed into one week. I don’t know how much of it actually “sunk in,” but I know that the students will certainly have more information than when I arrived. They are anxious for a final, but I didn’t know that I was to give one. I will prepare a final when I return and send it to them, but first I will prepare them for the final on my last day here.

I want them to have a positive feeling about their experience, and I think a strong performance on the final would help to solidify that feeling.

I have one more day to lecture. On Monday, I thought this day would never arrive. Now that it has, I look forward to going home but not with as much fervor as before. The people of Ethiopia are very kind and I will miss them.

What I see when teaching optometry in Gondar

 

By Jeff Walline, Associate Professor
Ohio State College of Optometry

I am in Ethiopia to teach two courses at University of Gondar: advanced contact lenses; and children’s vision.

The students have a strong basis in pediatric care, and they ask very intelligent questions. They are very patient with me when I ask them to repeat their questions.

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My University of Gondar students

 

Traveling from the Gondar airport to my hotel, I went through an entire evolutionary cycle. Near the rural airport, several men tended their sheep and cattle grazing on the lush, green grass. No fences or borders exist, except those extended by men with canes and ever-watchful eyes. Soon, grass huts appeared, with little to adorn them or signify life nearby. I imagined that the same people tending the herds lived in these small, round huts, but I have no confirmation.

Shortly, the rural life began to intertwine with modern life, as the livestock grazed along the roads infrequently traversed by fueled automobiles. Although vehicles existed, it seemed as though most people of Gondar walk from place to place as they generally carried walking sticks to seemingly help them traverse the hills and sometimes rugged roadside.

As automobiles increased in frequency, so too did people. More people waited, as opposed to actively walked, alongside the road. They waited for one of the minivans or the three-wheeled motorized carts that would transport them to their location. Our bus continued to pass slower vehicles and be passed by faster ones on the hills, seemingly never concerned about the side of the road on which one drives.

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A woman preparing grain on the roadside.

 

I was dropped off at my hotel, located across the street from the Vision Care Training Center and Fistula Clinic, where I lecture to six Master’s students about pediatrics and specialty contact lenses. The electricity only went out for 5 minutes during the morning lecture, so we were able to use technology to project PowerPoint slides on the wall. However, the projector was very touchy.

So, I have witnessed everything from farmers to exceedingly bright, enthusiastic students, and every bit of the evolution connecting the two, and all of this within the small boundaries of Gondar, Ethiopia.

 

 

2014 One Health Summer Institute brochure posted online

 

By Christine O’Malley
Executive Director of Health Sciences

I’m happy to share that the brochure for the 2014 One Health Summer Institute is now online.

More info about the institute can be found here: http://u.osu.edu/onehealth/projects/education/summer-institute/

Or you can download the brochure by clicking on this photo:

brochure-cover

 

 

MBA students: Power outages don’t stop the One Health work in Addis Ababa

 

By Danielle Latman
Ohio State MBA student

On Monday morning 5/19, we woke up to no internet. The city was in the midst of a rolling blackout, which apparently happens quite frequently. Our hotel was powered by a back-up generator, so our lights and water were (for the most part) working, but the internet was out and the phones were also spotty. Ethiotel, the country’s only landline and cell phone provider, was also experiencing intermittent outages. Even so, we were luckier than most, since many people have no backup power supply.

We met with our Addis client, Dr. Hailu, at 11am to present a rough draft of our rabies elimination proposal. With water, coffee, tea and kollo, we shared our ideas and listened to his suggestions. Overall we are satisfied with the progress we’ve made and will make time to incorporate Dr. Hailu’s suggestions before we leave.

In the afternoon, some teammates stayed at the hotel to complete their section of the project, while the rest drove into the city center to do some shopping. We bought some roasted coffee at Tomoca and green coffee at the local supermarket chain Shoa. It was our first time inside a grocery store here and we were excited to see what people buy here on a daily basis. We were also excited to stock up on some essentials, like bottled water and Mars candy bars.

During the drive back, we hit rush hour traffic, which is unlike any other traffic I’ve ever experienced. Think LA-level gridlock, but with all cars spewing diesel exhaust, and streets without painted lanes, and huge potholes, and tons of people waiting in lines 2-3 people thick for the next bus or taxi van. Pedestrians are also quite bold and usually walk right in front of cars, while cars themselves drive quite closely to each other. It’s amazing we haven’t seen any accidents yet.

After dinner we did some more work and then got ready for bed. Somehow even in the midst of the blackout, the club across the street was still well-lit, with loud music blaring through the night.

Rabies project: MBA students meet faith healers, health workers in Gondar

 

By Danielle Latman
Ohio State MBA student

Wednesday, 5:30pm: Rain pelted the windows as I sat in the back of the van with seven men, interviewing a young woman about administering health information in the Gondar region.

We were pulled over on the side of the road on the outskirts of Gondar city, asking the woman about her role as a Health Extension Worker (HEW). This 8-year-old program trains and employs women to provide basic health education, information and supplies to each kebele (small municipality) throughout Ethiopia. The HEW program responds to the limited formal health care in the country, with very few doctors and nurses to meet the population’s needs.

We were meeting with the woman, whose name translates to “Love,” to learn more about the role of HEW and if/how they could be helpful to the rabies plan.

We (Danny, Javed, Niraj and myself, plus our three guides/translators from the University of Gondar, and our driver Amhara) were sitting in the van because of the rain outside, and because the HEW’s post was far away.

Surprisingly, this wasn’t our first van interview of the day. We started the afternoon by visiting the health station near Gondar city. The Ethiopian health system has a set structure operating from the kebele to the regional level.

health infrastructure

The Ethiopian health system has a structure operating from the kebele to the regional level.

The HEW operate from a local kebele post and visit families door-to-door. Above them is a health station, with nurses. Above that is a health center. And the highest level of care is provided at the hospital level, but only two main hospitals (in Addis and Gondar) can provide a wide range of health services.

At the health station we could meet with a HEW coordinator. Our van idled for a few minutes in front of the short cement building while the team members discussed with our hosts what we wanted to ask. A young woman approached our van to ask what we wanted. Our hosts spoke with her in Amharic, and then the young woman left and shortly returned carrying an umbrella over the head of another woman, wearing a white coat.

Sister Abanesh entered the van, sat in front and answered some of our questions about Ethiopia’s 17 health priorities which the HEW workers focus on. She was the coordinator and managed six HEW. But we didn’t get to talk to her long, since the director of this health center preferred that we speak with him formally in his office.

So we got out and walked to his office in the health station compound. On the walk we saw some cool posters promoting different positive health behaviors, which Danny and I (the marketing team) were very interested in for our part of the project.

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A health poster at a local clinic

We filed into the director’s office, sitting in chairs around his desk. He answered our questions about the training and reporting processes for HEW, and Sister Abanesh gave us some pamphlets that they use for family health education.

One important thing we have learned is that, while there is an overall 40 percent literacy rate in Ethiopia, almost all households have at least one child who can read, and so the child will read information for the whole family, leading to an almost 100% literacy rate at the household level. Then they showed us the storage area where they keep the vaccines cold.

We left with smiles, thank you’s and handshakes all around, then drove to our second van meeting of the day.

It is worth noting that the health station is located in a Jewish area just outside Gondar. We saw a house with a wooden Jewish star outside painted blue and white.

Our first meeting of the day had been no less surprising. We met with a group of faith healers who were having their association meeting at 9am. We all gathered behind their shack in downtown Gondar, which had posters for remedies like aloe vera curing HIV.

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Meeting with faith healers in downtown Gondar.

We had heard that a lot of people in Ethiopia use traditional or faith healing (bahawali hakeem in Amharic) instead of or in addition to modern medicine, especially the rural population. About 90 percent of Ethiopians live in rural areas. Thankfully, our university guides Akilew and Debasu had contacts with them and were able to set up a meeting.

Though we directed our questions to the group of about seven men and one woman faith healers, for the most part only the chairman responded. We asked about their motivation for becoming faith healers. For some it was a change from their strict religious backgrounds. For others it was passed down in their family. We also asked if they had or would ever collaborate with doctors or other medical scientists in their treatment. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that they are open to collaborations, especially with treating dogs that have rabies.

We then visited a vaccine storage facility, a health clinic, and a vet clinic (with a very sad-looking chicken outside). Rabies vaccines have to be kept cold – one of the challenges in warm climates like those in Africa. The veterinarian told us they had administered 500 rabies vaccines since March and showed us their cold storage and even a sample vaccine, which came from India.

After our morning meetings, our host Tamiru suggested we go to Hotel Taye for traditional Ethiopian coffee. In the second floor lounge area, a woman was roasting coffee beans and cooking ground coffee in a traditional pot over hot coals. Rose petals were strewn in front of her cooking area.

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Traditional coffee ceremony at the end of a long but productive day.

It was a very long, insightful and rich work day which lasted about 12 hours, and some of us retired early to be well-rested for what will surely be another full, surprising and enriching day.

Town-gown partners showcase Columbus-OSU ties with Addis VIPs

By Christine O’Malley
Ohio State University
Executive Director of Health Sciences

Last week, we had a tremendous visit by 11 delegates from Addis Ababa University. The delegates met with Ohio State’s university and health sciences leaders. Many potential collaborations were discussed as we explore ways to broaden our One Health initiative.

Some of the delegates were able to visit with City of Columbus representatives. Greater Columbus sister Cities International Inc. posted this on its Facebook page:

 

 

It’s so great to have a strong town-gown partnership when Ohio State brings international guests to Columbus!

 

The business of rabies elimination in Ethiopia

By Danielle Latman
Ohio State MBA student

Seven Master of Business Administration students from Ohio State’s Fisher College of Business will visit Ethiopia for three weeks in May as the in-country portion of our Global Applied Projects class. The class is taught by Kurt Roush and advised by Professor Scott Livengood.

We are: Javed Cheema, Katie Fornadel, Carla Garver, Alejandra Iberico Lozada, Daniel Meisterman, Niraj Patel, and me, Danielle Latman. Combined, we are from three different countries, have traveled to almost 70 countries, and have 65 years experience in sales, marketing, operations, financial services, nonprofit and military industries.

From left: Katie Fornadel, Alejandra Iberico Lozada, Daniel Meisterman, Danielle Latman, Niraj Patel and Carla Garver. Not pictured: Javed Cheema.

From left: Katie Fornadel, Alejandra Iberico Lozada, Daniel Meisterman, Danielle Latman, Niraj Patel and Carla Garver. Not pictured: Javed Cheema.

The Ohio State / Ethiopia One Health Partnership asked us to harness our business skills to help operationalize the partnership’s rabies elimination project, adding a layer of practical implementation to the research and training that veterinarians and scientists have already developed. We have split up into teams focusing on the finance, marketing, operations, logistics and data collection functions of the rabies elimination project. Our goal is to develop a proposed roadmap that will allow the U.S. And Ethiopian partners to implement the rabies elimination One Health model project on a targeted region in Ethiopia.

We will travel to Ethiopia from May 1-25 to work with officials in Addis Ababa and Gondar. For the past seven weeks, we have met with the CDC, Drs. Gebreyes and O’Quinn, cultural anthropologists and social service agencies to prepare for our trip. We have also eaten at the lovely Lalibela restaurant here in Columbus, received our travel visas, and gotten a lot of shots — and were dismayed to find a shortage of the yellow fever vaccine in the U.S.!

For all of us, this will be our first time visiting Ethiopia and sub-Saharan Africa in general, and we are excited for what are sure to be many new and rich experiences! We are looking forward to exploring the natural environment of the Blue Nile Falls and Simien Mountains, driving overland from Addis Ababa to Gondar, seeing the history of ancient castles and churches, visiting marketplaces and drinking delicious coffee with each other and our new colleagues and neighbors. We are thrilled for the opportunity to contribute our business skills and passion to build on the One Health Partnership’s success and help eliminate rabies in Ethiopia.

One Health web feature — inspirational Buckeyes

By Christine O’Malley
Executive Director of Health Sciences

Our university communications team just posted this great web feature on our One Health initiative in Ethiopia:

Here’s the link to the full story:

http://www.osu.edu/features/2014/destination-ethiopia.html

Things that struck me from the video:

Cervical cancer is the second-highest cause of death in Ethiopia, yet it’s very treatable if caught early. Our cervical cancer project is working to address that.

The student interviewed, Korbin Smith, went to Ethiopia as part of the rabies project. This was a fantastic student learning experience for him and our other students. This initiative benefits both our partners in Ethiopia by improving people’s lives and our community here at Ohio State by providing international learning opportunities.

I hope you are inspired as much as I am by our faculty, students, and One Health partners.

The future of social work in Ethiopia — its students

By Tom Gregoire
Dean, Ohio State College of Social Work

Yemataw is a social work student at University of Gondar, Ethiopia. He’s a great example of the future potential of our field in this country.

Yemataw works with Hope for Tomorrow, an agency that shelter’s homeless children and young people rescued from human trafficking. Children live in a home with up to 15 other children. The agency builds their model around a foster-care type approach.  Each home has a mother and father assigned to it.  The children are enrolled in school, get regular health care, and care for each other like a family.

Social work is a relatively new profession in Ethiopia, and its benefit to health and well-being is not well understood here. I’m here with two other members of Ohio State’s College of Social Work to meet with social work colleagues at the University of Gondar. Associate Professor Jacquelyn Meshelemiah, Associate Director of Field Education Elon Simms and I are here during Ohio State’s spring break. As I write this, we are more than halfway through our visit.

Our trip follows multiple meetings with Gondar representatives both in Columbus and Washington, D.C. Our Gondar colleagues identified the important role of social work in health care, and asked us to assist them in advancing their work in that area. Gondar is one of only six social work programs in Ethiopia. (There are more than 400 programs, and 220 graduate programs in the U.S.)

Beginning in the fall of 2104 Gondar will offer only the second Ethiopian graduate program in social work. (Addis Ababa was the first in 2006.) We are assisting them in the implementation of their new MSW program.  Our assistance currently takes the form or reviewing curriculum and consulting on field and community education.  We anticipate teaching and supporting research here in the future.

We began on Monday by meeting the social work faculty.  That day was devoted to teaching each other about our programs, and the role of social work.

On Tuesday we presented to the collection of social work, nursing, and medical faculty and students. Jacquelyn discussed social work in health care, I presented a conceptual framework for graduate professional education (hopefully more interesting than it sounds), and Elon addressed the role of field practicum and community engagement in social work education. Our presentations were followed by thoughtful and creative conversation.

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Elon, Yemataw, myself, and Jacquelyn at Hope For Tomorrow.

 

On Wednesday we toured social work agencies and met with both staff and the Gondar social work students who were placed there.  That’s where we met Yemataw.

 

 

 

 

We spent much of the rest of the morning at the University of Gondar hospital.  In our interviews with physician and nursing staff we learned that social issues are among the most frequent barriers to recovery.

Although there is recognition of the high need for the services that social workers provide, there is limited understanding by other professions of the role of the social worker.

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Asmech at Gondar Hospital

 

Asmech is one of just four social workers who cover the entire University Hospital.  A similar sized hospital in the U.S. might have 50 or more social workers.  Family members are mostly on their own to discover the social work service, as referrals are infrequent.

 

 

 

 

 

After leaving the hospital we toured another shelter for girls where we met Mahi, another social work student.  Mahi works at a childcare program.  In Gondar when a woman is imprisoned her children are often placed in the prison with her.  This childcare center exists for those children, who are bused to the center from prison each day and returned to their mothers in prison at the end of the day. Today, we’ll meet a student, Eden, who is planning to conduct research on the emotional lives of these children.

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Mahi, a social work student who works at a child care center.

 

 

It’s inspiring to meet these students who embody the future of the social work field in Ethiopia.

 

 

 

 

Our evenings have been spent in dinners with our Gondar colleagues. During those gatherings we have learned much about Ethiopian culture, the needs of this country, and most exciting; the great potential of a partnership between the University of Gondar and The Ohio State University College of Social Work.  I am inspired by this country and its people and look forward to a long and beneficial partnership.

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With our partners at the University of Gondar.