Ethiopian Health Care Forum in D.C.

Above: Dr. Ebba of Gemini Health (left) with Dr. Wondu,
Head of ORBIS Ethiopian, an eye care and blindness prevention
organization.

By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, July 2, 2008

New York (Tadias) – The Gemini Health Care Group, a non-profit established to provide health care to Ethiopian children, will be hosting a health care forum on Thursday July 3rd at George Washington University. The event will be held from 6pm to 8pm at the Continental Ball Room, Marvin Center, and will feature Dr. Bogale Worku, Chief of Pediatrics at The Black Lion Hospital of Addis Ababa and President of the Ethiopian Pediatrics Society.

We interviewed Dr. Ebba Ebba of the The Gemini Health Care Group to give us some insight into his organization’s work.

Tadias: Dr. Ebba, thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us. Please tell us about Gemini Health Care Forum and its objective?

Ebba: On behalf of the Board of Directors of Gemini Health Care Group (GHCG), I would like to first thank Tadias for allowing us to share our vision and mission with your audience. We are very much excited to host the inaugural installment of our annual Pediatric Health Care Forum on July 3rd, 2008 in Washington D.C. This year’s event takes a special significance as it coincides with the 25th anniversary of the Ethiopian Soccer Tournament. The theme for this year’s forum is, “The State of Health of Ethiopian Children- from Challenges to Solutions”. The key note speaker is Dr. Bogale Worku, who is Chief of Pediatrics at the Black Lion Hospital in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. The main objective of the forum is to increase awareness about the significant negative health indicators amongst children in Ethiopia and how WE can participate to address some of these issues collectively and comprehensively.

Tadias: What, in your opinion, is the state of health of children in Ethiopia?

Ebba: If you look at the various Data Sources, such as WHO, UNICEF and Ethiopian Ministry of Health’s statistics, there are variances in terms of the vital health indicators; but they all agree that urgent and comprehensive interventions are required to reverse these negative health indicators. Just imagine that nearly one in ten newborns die before they reach their first birthday. About 17% of children succumb to mostly preventable diseases before they turn five. When you couple this reality with lack of access to care, proper nutrition & clean drinking water, as well as lack of sufficient skilled health care man power, you can see why addressing these challenges could be daunting. It is going to require massive investment from the public and private sector to prepare the health care infrastructure & the skilled man power to meet these challenges. As nearly 80% of the deaths are from preventable disease, massive public health interventions must take priority. As we have an expert in Dr Bogale who lives and works in such realty, I urge all interested parties to came and hear a first hand account at our health care forum.

Tadias: What are the best ways of improving health care for children in Ethiopia?

Ebba: We believe a comprehensive and multifaceted approach is required to meet these challenges. As the significant portions of maladies are from preventable and communicable disease, strengthening the public health sector is going to be vital. Working with the Ministry of Health as well as organizations like the UNICEF, we must extend access to preventive health care services to the country side where the majority of the nearly 35 million children under the age of 15 reside. We have to increase the number of health care facilities, whether it is a neighborhood health center or a tertiary hospital. Finally, any facility would be worthless without adequate number of well trained and well compensated health care workers. We must collectively create the environment to retain the best minds of Ethiopia to stay and help their fellow citizens. We believe we are in a health care crises mode in Ethiopia when there are only about two thousand physicians for a population of 80 million! As one of the main objectives of this health care forum is to find solutions, we encourage all of you to join us on July 3rd or send us you ideas through our website www.ghcg.org.

Tadias: The health forum is being held at the same time as the annual soccer tournament. Is that strategic? And who do you plan to attract at the forum?

Ebba: We expect the audience to be any individual with an interest to help the children of Ethiopia. We welcome people of diverse background and experience, but they must have good will and positive mind. The forum is only for finding health care solutions and not a political dialogue. Holding our inaugural event in Washington DC, home to the largest Ethiopian population in North America, during the Ethiopian Soccer Tournament is going to enhance our ability to attract a large cross section of the Ethiopian Diaspora.

Tadias: Please tell us about the Gemini Health Care Group?

Ebba: Gemini Health Group is a not-for-profit organization that was primarily established to help participate in the alleviation of some of the health care burdens facing the children of Ethiopia. We were established in 2006 and obtained our 501©3 status in 2007. Members of the group include four pediatricians with over 75 years of combined pediatric care experience. We are a non-political, non-ethnic and non denominational organization run by a group of volunteers. We all feel the God has blessed us with the good fortune and faculty and we would like to extend our support to our less fortunate brothers and sisters in Ethiopia. We all have our full time jobs and responsibilities, but we wanted to create awareness about the health care situation in Ethiopia as well as come up with solutions. One of our first projects is to help build and support a 50 bed pediatric hospital in Addis Ababa. We are going to support the hospital with three fully equipped pediatric mobile clinics to undertake the public health initiatives. I encourage those interested to visit our website to learn about the organization, the projects and how you can be part of. You may visit us at www.ghcg.org. Finally, we are well aware that what we are attempting to do is like a drop in a bucket; but we hope that drop will create a ripple effect to inspire others to join in the effort to find solutions.

Tadias: A serious conundrum affecting health systems in Africa is “brain drain”. What can be done about brain drain? Is this one of the topics at the forum?

Ebba: Your question is very much timely, as most developing countries like Ethiopia are grappling with the spiraling loss of skilled man power, not only in the health care field but in other sectors as well. As part of the solution to mitigate some of the issues concerning the health care of children in Ethiopia, we are going to talk about brain drain in the health care sector as a health care crisis that must be addressed.

Tadias: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Ebba: I want to thank your magazine again for giving us this forum. I would like to use this forum to make a call to my fellow Ethiopians and Ethiopian Americans. I would not be exaggerating if I say most of us are privileged to have the opportunity to succeed in the United States of America. As we go about our daily routines, we must not forget the less fortunate, whether here in America or in Ethiopia. We must challenge ourselves to “give back” the best way we know how. We should not expect others to rally around our causes and needs if we can’t help our own. Let us be less skeptical and more charitable to what ever cause we choose.

Tadias: Dr. Ebba, thank you and good luck.


Learn more about Gemini Health Care Group at GHCG.ORG

9 Responses to “Ethiopian Health Care Forum in D.C.”


  1. 1 Dr. Zelalem Mekuria Jul 2nd, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    Fantastic! I will certainly be there. Very timely and needed forum. Thank you Tadias for your wonderful service for the Diaspora and thank you the organizers of the forum.

    Dr. Ebba, keep up the good work.

    It would be nice to hear from more health care professionals on this blog.

    Respectfully,
    Zelalem

  2. 2 Betty Negusse Jul 2nd, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    This is wonderful.. unfortunately, I will not be able to make it…but will love to get updates.

    Cheers from NYC

  3. 3 venkat rao Jul 3rd, 2008 at 7:41 am

    Yes really Very Good News And All Posts Are Written Very Well.
    health

  4. 4 dave Mar 18th, 2009 at 1:24 am

    Fantastic! I will certainly be there. Very timely and needed forum. Thank you Tadias for your wonderful service for the Diaspora and thank you the organizers of the forum.

  5. 5 snegoviksukablyat Aug 2nd, 2009 at 7:32 am

    hello
    im new on this forum….

  6. 6 John Dec 13th, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Excellent program!

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