2015 Summer Institute: What happened to Saturday?

It seems like just a few hours ago that two students came to my house Friday for a sleepover so we could make our 6 am flight headed for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Joslyn and Dan awaiting passport control in Addis Ababa.

Joslyn and Dan awaiting passport control in Addis Ababa.

As we now sit drinking much needed coffee, we realize it’s already Sunday, we have no idea what happened to Saturday, and we can barely remember what sleep feels like.

We are, however, extremely grateful for the chance to be part of the 2015 Ohio State One Health Summer Institute, where our job will be teaching communication and helping to craft messages that may help with the country’s rabies epidemic.

Since it’s been just eight months since my last visit to Ethiopia, it feels like a homecoming of sorts, but it is also a chance to see the country anew through the eyes of my students, Joslyn and Dan.

As I write, we have made a much-needed rest stop at the Jupiter Hotel in Addis Ababa before heading off to our final destination, the University of Gondar.

I will be here for a week. Dan and Joslyn for two weeks beyond that. We have already adopted the philosophy of the wise and wonderful Wondwossen Gebreyes, the leader of our venture: Maximum flexibility with minimum expectations.

So we celebrated when we found Wondwossen at baggage claim after we flew through  Washington D.C., and he came through Toronto. And we did not sweat when Dan missed his flight to Gondar.

One thing is sure: This will be another incredible adventure.


Big audience for neonatal resuscitation training in Addis Ababa


By Diane Gorgas, MD
Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine
The Ohio State University

In four days at Addis Ababa University, we educated more than 50 health care providers on basic neonatal resuscitation. These individuals spanned the spectrum from new pediatric nurses and labor-and-delivery scrub nurses, to neonatal nurses with decades of experience, to midwives, to pediatric residents.

What we discovered was a commitment to excellence and a dedication to providing the best patient care possible, even in a resource-poor environment. The baseline fund of knowledge in addition to the intellectual curiosity of the group impressed us. There was a drive and a passion to learn that spoke for itself and was manifest in insightful questions, enthusiastic interaction, and a resistance to let us leave at the end of the day.


Diane Gorgas demonstrates advanced resuscitation techniques at the Black Lion Hospital in Addis Ababa.

The refresher training began by framing the need for this knowledge and skill set.  The Black Lion Hospital in Addis Ababa is the premier teaching and patient care site in this country of 92 million people. About 3,000 deliveries a year take place at the hospital. Being a tertiary care referral center, these are disproportionately more complicated and higher risk pregnancies than the general population.

Within an average, healthy population, 10% of babies will require some sort of support at delivery.  In this high-risk population, estimates can be as high as 30-40% of newborns who will require resuscitation.

Our training started with a definition of the scope of the challenge, and nurse-midwife Sharon Ryan, CNM, DNP, discussed both maternal and labor and delivery risk factors which may compromise a newborn and necessitate resuscitation efforts.

Monica Terez, RN and life-time neonatal nurse took over and outlined the equipment needs and basic resuscitation algorithm for a newborn, including ventilator support through bag valve mask and chest compressions.

I finished the training with a discussion of more advanced resuscitation techniques including intubation and vascular access. The training received high praise for its interactive nature, and for the hands-on experience it afforded all the learners.

Ethiopia is a book-rich culture.  They are an exceedingly motivated, bright, and industrious people who are struggling with the challenge of every developing country: how to educate and train its best yet retain them in country and not lose out to the developed world’s insatiable appetite for experienced health care workers.

The “brain drain” of trained physicians and nurses from Ethiopia to the U.S. and Europe is real. We have heard estimates that there are currently more Ethiopian-born physicians practicing in Chicago than there are in the entire country of Ethiopia. This creates a practitioner experience vacuum. Practical, clinical training is difficult to sustain as senior clinicians are wooed away to greener pastures, leaving the young to train the young.

The One Health Initiative is an excellent start towards bridging this gap, and the possibility of the three of us traveling to Ethiopia as supported by the Greif Foundation is making strides at providing these valuable experiences.

Maximum learning, for all partners

By Wondwossen Gebreyes, DVM, PhD 
Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine

As I said in my previous post, we learned many things from each other during this successful Summer Institute. Here are a few of my thoughts on specific topics.

Maximum flexibility and minimum expectations: This became the motto for the team members a couple of days after we arrived. Considering the resource limitations of Ethiopia, the high economic growth and resulting traffic jams, and limitations in communications, one may not be able to plan things well in advance, or keep your lane consistently in driving on the highways, or be able to arrive for meetings on time.

Crowded streets of Addis Ababa.

At the end of the day, we always achieve all the goals, and everyone gets to be happy, though not in the most efficient way.

The situation also made me realize how much building capacity in the area of effective communication could improve all the activities we conduct in this partnership, be it neurosurgery, nursing, or environmental health.

Effective communication and filling the gap within our partner institutes in Ethiopia is critical.

However, life in the U.S. made us become very sensitive. We often try to be perfect. Ethiopia was a great venue for most to realize the sky does not fall. It is OK to be a bit late.

Relax, and still achieve our goals!

Equipment. Equipment, Equipment: As we all witnessed during our several meetings at the various health science colleges of the two universities and also read in blogs, one key ingredient missing very much in the hospitals, research, and teaching settings is equipment.

During this trip, I learned first-hand that 44% of the patient cases at the nation’s premier referral hospital, the AAU Black Lion Hospital, were cancer cases. It was sickening to also learn that among these cases, 65% were pediatric. Yes, indeed there is lack of manpower, and so we launched the institute.

The partner universities are also building the physical infrastructures. While these address part of the issue, the lack of equipment is a major impediment for capacity-building. How can one radiotherapy machine can handle such a large cancer case burden for 85 million-plus population?

Equipping laboratories and clinical units remains a major challenge that partners in Ethiopia and Ohio State will have to tackle.

Maximum motivation: I never realized so clearly until this trip what drives my passion in global work, particularly the teaching aspects. Never fully understood what drives me to lecture several hours with only a short tea break and still have the full steam.

I observed my colleague, Dr. Bisesi, give his lecture on environmental health, and I saw the wide open-eyed trainees and their interaction. I noticed the high level of motivation by the trainees. The same was true for my course.

Dr. Wondwossen Gebreyes with faculty at Addis Ababa University.

Students were so highly motivated that they even asked me to teach a full day on a Saturday. Some even suggested we keep going on Sunday, but that idea created a bit of a stir. “True,” I said in my heart, “that is a big NO in Ethiopia.”

You have to respect Sabbath day more than molecular epidemiology.

The Ferenji Effect: Ferenji is defined very loosely as “a foreigner,” particularly referring to a rich Caucasian. Its connotation is very positive. Ferenji is often considered as a nice, generous foreigner whose pocket carries endless amount of treasures … well, we all know the truth.

Typically Ferenjis are magnets to Ethiopian kids in urban and rural areas of Ethiopia; they often have chocolates, coins, and all kinds of fun things. At a minimum they have a digital camera to snap kids’ picture and show it back to them. The kids giggle seeing their own image in this small window. They followed Dr. Bisesi and Mr. Harrison as we traveled in a suburb of Addis.


During the Summer Institute, I witnessed the usual hospitality of the university security guards and others giving the due respect to our “guest Ferenjis” and I (the designated local chauffeur) also get a free ride.

Unlike what I stated above, about “Ferenji are magnets to local kids,” kids in the Woreta area acted differently. When we were collecting questionnaires for the rabies project, the kids would run away when they saw our giant, “tall-6-foot-some” great athlete and health science student, Korbin Smith. “They might have considered him as Goliath,” I thought to myself. I also hoped one of those little shepherd kids would not be like Dawit (David). Thankfully, we left the place with all fun and no fighting.

rabies workshop 13


Watercolor inspirations in Gondar

By Karla Zadnik, OD, PhD
College of Optometry

Watercolor inspirations in Gondar!

Watercolor inspirations in Gondar!

Watercolored images of Four Sisters (restaurant) and the transportation van's dashboard chickens (by Karla Zadnik)

Watercolored images of Four Sisters (restaurant) and the transportation van’s dashboard chickens (by Karla Zadnik)

Dr. Karla Zadnik with the ethics course attendees at the University of Gondar

Dr. Karla Zadnik with the ethics course attendees at the University of Gondar