News / Africa

Diaspora Doctors to Start Specialized Hospital in Ethiopia

A group of 150 Ethiopian doctors living abroad are constructing a hospital in their home country that will offer state-of-the-art medical treatment. This new hospital is designed to reduce the number of Ethiopians seeking medical facilities abroad.
The Ethio-American Doctors Group, an association of more than150 Ethiopian doctors in the diaspora, is realizing its dream: establishing an up-to-date hospital in their homeland that includes a medical school and a medical research center.
Dr. Yonas Legessa Cherinet of the Doctors Group said the new hospital will feature 27 medical specialties that currently are not offered in Ethiopia.
“There are a varieties of fields where service is very limited here. I could mention vascular surgery, urology, pulmonology, neuro-surgery and reproductive endocrinology, which is not available. So many doctors are coming in with so many specialities, there will be a core group of these specialists who will be coming here to lead some departments, to work here,” said Yonas.

The Doctors Group hopes that fewer Ethiopians will go abroad for medical help if they can be treated inside the country.   

Currently, many Ethiopians that can afford better treatment go to Asia, the Middle East and South Africa. The Bangkok Hospital in Thailand treated more than 6,000 Ethiopians in 2011 alone. A lot of money is involved, as the average treatment costs about $20,000.
Dr. Zelelam Abebe, who works in a private clinic in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, said there is a large need for first-class medical services in the country.
"I had to refer several people to hospitals abroad for different cardiac surgeries, brain surgery and advanced cancer cases,” he said.

Dr. Yonas said that providing for Ethiopians who might otherwise go abroad means the hospital will have to be run differently - and better - compared to most other facilities in the country.
“The reasons they mention [for going abroad] vary from the quality of care to the way they are treated in respect. So we want to bring a new culture here of medical care, which will be patient-centered,” said Yonas.

But with an average yearly income of $1,200, most Ethiopians will not be able to afford the treatments offered at the new facility. Yonas said money will be raised for those in financial need.
”We also have what we call the EDG fund, which will be taking 10 percent of our profit for people who cannot afford quality service,” he said.

Tariku Assefa is a general practicing doctor who works at the Black Lion Hospital, the largest hospital in Ethiopia, which also includes a medical school. He welcomes the idea of the new hospital, but hopes the new research facility will focus on diseases prevalent in Ethiopia.

“We use most of the research that were done in the western countries. We take example from America or other western countries because those research is done there. In most of the disease entity we don’t have our own figures, we use the figures of other people, which is somehow biased because the one which is in the West may not work for us,” said Tariku.
The hospital is scheduled to open its doors by 2016 and employ 300 to 400 people, of whom 50 will be physicians. Some doctors from the diaspora will return to Ethiopia, while others will commit several weeks per year to an exchange of knowledge with the hospital.

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Comment Sorting
by: Berhe Berhane from: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
March 20, 2013 5:25 AM
The construction and setting up of modern hospital by the diaspora is a blessed idea that most of us Ethiopians would welcome with great admiration. It is a far sighted project that would touch the interest of each Ethiopian longing to see its mother land modernized. Many I seize this opportunity to congratulate the 'creator' of this long-awaited and unmatched idea. Keep the spirit up ! Berhe Berhane, AA, Ethiopia

by: desta from: India
February 25, 2013 10:09 PM
Good thought and expecting realization: Most Asian countries developed their different sectors by their concerned children living abroad. Those determined to develop their country didn't consider themselves as something gift from God as savior for poor country rather responsible. You folks if you really determined to realize as you said, feel responsible.

Do not consider themselves as doing favor for our Ethiopian. You have to see this as opportunity to cleanse your guilty of being left your country and poor people seeking more better life. To reach this level this country and people sacrifice for you, sharing large amount for you- know this is your duty not your gift. I heard previously about one project 'Mela hospital' by diaspora doctors but nothing on land. I hope yours will not be like that.

by: Kiros
February 25, 2013 7:45 AM
That sounds good. But we need to ask why the doctors left their country in the first place. I bet 150 is only a fraction of hundreds more who have emigrated West in the past two decades.

by: observer
February 22, 2013 7:04 PM
good start . . .
I would spend on education as well - some one has to spend quite a big some of money on medical education in Ethiopia - both on quality and quantity.
There are many motivated young kids in high school - but there must be an avenue and a system that takes these kids, train, educate and motivate them and provide them the appropriate channels to grow up professionally. I would have liked to be a doctor, for example and the country had enormous shortages. And I knew many good students back then who would have wanted to . But very few students had the chances.
Building a university in the middle of nowhere where no one wants to go and teach is not really the solution. The result will be an army of badly trained graduates!!!

Young doctors who go to the rural areas should be paid more and there must be a limit for how long they should serve. A year or two is a good practice. We must also develop the culture of volunteerism and reward those who volunteer in rural areas. We can create a system that makes volunteerism prestigious much like the peace corps or teach for America.
Mentor the young and upcoming - the future relies on them.
Ethiopia should enormously invest on educating its young!!!

by: Diaspora Pundit from: Washington, DC
February 22, 2013 9:37 AM
VOA, is everything OK? String of positive stories on Ethiopia, very unlike you...Please get well soon, and back to spinning the doom and gloom.

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